The Difference between Comprehensive and Limited Orthodontic Treatment

Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment

Comprehensive orthodontic treatment can treat any type of malocclusion, anywhere in the mouth, including:

  • Multiple affected teeth
  • Crowded teeth (multiple teeth that are crooked and overlap, because there is not quite enough room in the mouth)
  • Overbite (usually involves the upper incisors—the four teeth in the front, center of the upper jaw)
  • Underbite (usually involves the lower incisors—the four teeth in the front, center of the lower jaw)
  • Irregularities in the front and back of the mouth, including the molars (twisted teeth or molars that sit at an angle, either toward or away from the inner cheek)
  • Problems in both the upper and lower jaws

The goal is to create the ideal alignment of all the teeth, and the upper and lower jaws, to produce the best smile and the most even bite possible. Comprehensive orthodontic treatment can take up to two years to complete and typically involves conventional braces or aligners. If you're looking for an Orthodontist in Modesto, give Hillock Family Dental a call to schedule an appointment to get your personalized treatment plan.

Limited Orthodontic Treatment

On the other hand, limited orthodontic treatment does not target the back teeth and often involves only one or a few front teeth that are crooked or twisted. The goal is frequently limited to improving the patient’s smile, although it is also used to correct a developing problem. This can often be the case with children or adolescents.

A typical course of treatment is approximately six months, and some of the newer, less aggressive orthodontic techniques and appliances can be used. To keep the treatment program as short as possible, limited orthodontics may be combined with cosmetic dental procedures. For example, once the problem teeth are repositioned, crowns or veneers may be used to achieve the desired outcome.

An Example of Limited Orthodontic Treatment

Comprehensive orthodontic treatment usually involves full-mouth braces, whereas limited orthodontic treatment can involve braces that only span the incisors. This is a popular treatment plan to correct thumb-sucking, which usually only causes the middle teeth of the top jaw to protrude past the lower lip and jaw.

Determining Whether You Need Comprehensive or Limited Orthodontics

Whether you need comprehensive or limited orthodontics is determined by several factors:

  • The number and location of the teeth involved
  • The severity of the problem
  • The goals of the patient

During the initial consultation, your dentist or orthodontist will:

  • Thoroughly assess the condition and position of your teeth and jaws
  • Discuss your goals, preferences and budget
  • Present the options available to you that meet the criteria you, as a team, set for treatment

It is important to recognize that, in some cases, a patient’s preference for limited orthodontics will not align with the practitioner’s recommendation. While a patient, understandably, may be primarily interested in aesthetic results, the practitioner’s job is to help the patient have the “healthiest” mouth possible, because an unhealthy mouth with misaligned teeth or jaws can create problems elsewhere in the body.

For example:

  • When the upper and lower jaws do not align, it can cause temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, resulting in headaches, pain and discomfort in the joint, and problems chewing.
  • If the back teeth do not meet properly, chewing can be affected. This can affect the body in two ways: 1) It can be difficult to eat certain healthful foods, like meat, nuts, and even certain crisp vegetables, possibly causing lack of nutrients. 2) Chewing stimulate the production of saliva, which contains enzymes that start the digestive process even before food reaches the stomach. Over time, this can cause digestive stress.


We work closely with all of our patients to help them have healthy, straight teeth. As one of the top providers of orthodontics in Modesto, CA, we will direct you to the most effective solution for your individual alignment problem, whether limited orthodontics or a more thorough treatment.

You can trust us to be honest, straightforward, and caring – we will treat you like family, because we genuinely care about the people we treat.


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Hillock Family Dental

(209) 522-8800

1908 Coffee Rd.
Modesto, CA 95355