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What to expect during your journey to straighter, healthier teeth with orthodontic treatment

You and your child are one of a kind. As such, at Abel, Phan & Associates in Sterling, Virginia, we understand that your orthodontic treatment is uniquely “you.” With that being said, there are some phases of straightening teeth, correcting developmental problems, and achieving healthy bites, which most patients share. Our dentists, Drs Anna Abel and Chuong Phan, are happy to provide some insights into what to expect as you embark on a better health and well-being journey via our advanced, clinically proven orthodontics.


It’s generally advised that pediatric patients undergo an orthodontic evaluation before 7. Early intervention allows us to help guide the development of the jaws. The permanent teeth can break through or healthily erupt in the gums and at the appropriate positions. However, patients of all ages can benefit from orthodontic evaluation and treatment, including adult patients whose treated teeth may have relapsed or shifted back out of alignment over time.

Initially, we collect information about our patients’ mouths. This information includes scanning the mouth and creating models or impressions. These impressions are then used to design the oral appliance. There are variations based on the specific recommendation for treatment and differences in how these appliances are designed.

Active treatment

This is the stage where the braces are either fixed and then adjusted. Or the first set of aligner trays is provided to be worn as directed by one of our dentists. We provide detailed instructions on caring for your appliances throughout treatment and ways to support efficient treatment that produces optimal results comfortably and complication-free. Throughout treatment, you will visit us periodically. So, we can assure you things are going as planned, and we will address any concerns that you may have. Additionally, these periodic appointments allow us to tighten the wires and adjust the braces for braces-wearers.

Sometimes, active treatment is generally characterized as “Phase One” and “Phase Two.” The first phase involves moving baby teeth and removing them as needed to make sufficient room for the permanent teeth to erupt in a healthy, evenly-spaced manner. After the first phase is complete, there is a resting period before moving on to the second phase. Phase No. 2 represents orthodontic treatment when most or all of the secondary teeth have erupted. Notably, many patients can be successfully treated after one phase; however, exceptions to this rule include patients who require additional treatment once the active growth stage has passed. Some conditions respond better than others to treatment as the jaws and other structures develop.


Treatment can be completed in as few as two months to around two years. The length of treatment depends on factors such as the nature of the malocclusion that requires correction and the severity of the condition. It also depends on patients’ compliance; for instance, wearing aligner trays consistently as directed by your dentist. We will provide you with a retainer after your braces have been removed or the last aligner has been worn. These removable appliances conform to your mouth and are worn to assure that relapse does not occur. Relapse can arise when treated teeth shift back out of alignment.

At Abel, Phan & Associates, we provide clear and helpful guidance at every phase of treatment. We also welcome your questions and look forward to hearing from you! Contact us at (571) 450-9848 to schedule your appointment at our Sterling/Potomac Falls office.

Dr. Chuong Phan

Dr. phan

Dr. Anna Abel

Dr. Abel

Husband and wife duo Drs. Chuong Phan and Anna Abel lead the Abel, Phan, and Associates dental team.

Dr. Phan is a Howard University College of Dentistry graduate and has practiced for over 20 years. His favorite clinical procedures are orthodontic and endodontic treatments, including root canal therapy. He has been trained in many prestigious institutes. Dr. Abel graduated from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry and has over 20 years of experience. Her favorite procedures are cosmetic services like veneers, implants, and oral surgery. She has trained with top-level organizations.

Both doctors are regular volunteers at Northern Virginia Dental Clinic, providing care to low-income patients, for which they have received many honors. They have also volunteered to help disadvantaged communities, especially children, through many foreign missions.