Two-Phase Treatment

We are pleased to offer early orthodontic treatment to help your child’s oral health and smile. Also known as preventive, interceptive, or phase-one treatment, this type of care helps Dr. Richards identify and treat developing problems early before they can become more complex, and reduces your child’s need for additional care in the future.

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children receive their initial orthodontic screening no later than age 7, as this is an age where your child will still have a mix of both baby and permanent teeth. While your child’s teeth may appear straight, dental problems may develop that only a trained professional can accurately diagnose and treat. By diagnosing and treating these problems early, we can reduce or eliminate complications from conditions such as:

  • Jaw misalignment or TMJ disorders
  • Harmful oral habits (such as finger sucking or tongue thrusting)
  • Trauma due to protruding front teeth
  • Airway issues
  • Speech issues

Additionally, interceptive orthodontics can help guide your child’s teeth and jaws into the correct positions as they develop to ensure that they can enjoy the proper oral function as well as a healthy and well-balanced smile that will boost his or her confidence. Early preventive care can make future orthodontic treatments shorter and less complicated and in many cases produce better results than treatments that are provided later on in your child’s life.

What is Two-Phase Treatment?

Two-phase treatment is an orthodontic approach that involves treating a patient at two separate times during their growth and development. The first phase targets the jaw and bite alignment while the second phase focuses on positioning all the permanent teeth into their optimal places. This strategic timing allows us to address both structural issues and tooth alignment within the same treatment plan, ensuring the best possible outcome.

Phase One: Building the Foundation

The goal of the first phase is to help the jaw develop in a way that can accommodate all permanent teeth and improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. Treatment might include orthodontic appliances to guide jaw growth, correct crossbites, or prevent overcrowding as permanent teeth arrive. Starting treatment while a child is still growing helps take advantage of natural growth patterns to improve orthodontic results. It’s about laying down the right foundation for a lifetime of smiles.

Phase Two: Perfecting Your Smile

After a resting period, phase two begins once most or all of the permanent teeth have erupted. This phase usually involves braces or aligners to position every tooth perfectly for optimal aesthetics and function. Since the groundwork for a better jaw alignment was laid during phase one, phase two focuses on fine-tuning tooth positions. This ensures a harmonious bite and a stunning smile.

Propel Accelerated Treatment

At Michael Richards Orthodontics, we understand that your time is precious. That’s why we’re excited to offer accelerated orthodontic treatment with Propel technology, designed to fast-track your path to a perfect smile without compromising the quality of results.

Propel technology is an innovative solution that works in conjunction with traditional braces or aligners to enhance and speed up tooth movement. By stimulating the bone around your teeth, Propel accelerates the remodeling process, allowing your teeth to move into their desired positions more quickly and efficiently. The best part? Propel is minimally invasive, safe, and effective for patients looking to reduce their time in orthodontic treatment.

Propel works by making small, micro-osteoperforations in the jawbone. This process increases the rate of bone remodeling and allows the teeth to move into their correct positions at a faster pace. With Propel, there’s no downtime, meaning it blends seamlessly with your regular treatment and may even help alleviate any soreness from treatment.

There are many benefits to incorporating Propel into your treatment plan, including:

  • Faster Results Propel can reduce your treatment time by up to 50%, getting you to your ideal smile quicker than traditional methods alone.
  • Enhanced Comfort Many patients report that Propel treatments make their orthodontic adjustments more comfortable.
  • Increased Convenience Less time in treatment means fewer office visits and more time enjoying your new smile.
  • Compatibility Propel works with most orthodontic treatments, including braces and clear aligners, making it a versatile option for many patients.

Propel is suitable for most patients, from teens to adults, looking to accelerate their orthodontic treatment. During your consultation at Michael Richards Orthodontics, we’ll assess your specific needs and discuss whether Propel is the right choice for you. Our goal is to provide you with the most efficient and effective path to achieving the beautiful, confident smile you’ve always wanted.

At Michael Richards Orthodontics, we’re dedicated to adopting the latest technologies that improve your orthodontic experience and results. With Propel, we’re able to offer an exciting option for those seeking to shorten their orthodontic journey without sacrificing the quality of their treatment outcome.

Airway Orthodontics

At Michael Richards Orthodontics, we believe in a holistic approach to orthodontic care, which is why we’re proud to offer airway-focused orthodontics. This innovative practice goes beyond straightening teeth; it’s about improving the patient’s overall health by ensuring a clear, unobstructed airway, which is vital for optimal breathing, sleep, and well-being.

Airway orthodontics addresses various dental and facial irregularities that can restrict the airway, leading to breathing difficulties. Issues such as narrow jaws, underdevelopment of the jaw bones, or misaligned teeth can contribute to obstructed airflow, affecting everything from sleep quality to posture. By focusing on these issues early, we can promote better breathing patterns, enhance sleep quality, and potentially alleviate symptoms associated with sleep apnea, snoring, and other sleep-related disorders.

The benefits of incorporating airway considerations into orthodontic treatment are profound and far-reaching. By ensuring that the jaws and teeth are properly aligned to facilitate optimal airway patency, patients can experience:

  • Improved sleep quality and reduced symptoms of sleep apnea and snoring
  • Enhanced oxygen intake for better overall health and energy levels
  • Improved facial aesthetics and jaw development
  • Decreased risk of developing TMD (temporomandibular disorders) and other jaw-related issues
  • Better long-term stability of orthodontic results

Our Approach

At Michael Richards Orthodontics, our airway orthodontics approach begins with a comprehensive evaluation of your or your child’s oral and facial structures, breathing patterns, and sleep behaviors. We use state-of-the-art technology to accurately assess and diagnose potential airway obstructions and develop a personalized treatment plan. Our goal is not only to create beautiful smiles but also to improve quality of life through better breathing.

Whether it’s expanding the palate in younger patients to accommodate proper tooth and jaw development or realigning teeth and jaws in adults to improve airway openness, our treatments are tailored to meet the unique needs of each patient.

Airway orthodontics is beneficial for both children and adults. Early intervention in children can guide proper jaw growth, prevent the development of more severe alignment issues, and support healthy breathing patterns. Adults experiencing symptoms related to restricted airways, such as chronic snoring or sleep apnea, can also benefit significantly from airway-focused treatments.

At Michael Richards Orthodontics, we’re committed to providing comprehensive care that supports not just a beautiful smile but a healthier, happier life. If you’re interested in learning more about how airway orthodontics can benefit you or your family, we invite you to contact us for a consultation.


Retainers are custom-made orthodontic appliances used to maintain the alignment of your teeth after orthodontic treatment. You may notice that your teeth tend to shift as you age. A retainer helps ensure that your teeth remain properly aligned, preventing them from moving back into their previous positions and allowing you to continue enjoying optimal oral health and function as well as an attractive smile. There are several types of retainers available, and our orthodontist will discuss your options with you to find the type of retainer that is right for you.

After receiving your retainer, we recommend that you:

  • After receiving your retainer wear it as instructed. RETENTION IS FOR LIFE.
  • Remove your retainer to eat but make sure to keep it in its case when you are not wearing it. Most retainers are lost in restaurants or school lunchrooms.
  • Clean your appliance once a day with a soft toothbrush and water.
  • When your retainer is not in your mouth, it should ALWAYS be in its case to prevent damage or loss.
  • If your retainer is damaged or broken, please call us immediately.
  • Always bring your retainer to your appointments.
  • Keep your retainer away from hot water, hot car dashboards, pockets, the washing machine, and napkins.

If you have any questions about your retainers or the retention stage of treatment, contact us today to make an appointment with Dr. Richards in Salt Lake City and Riverton, Utah. Our team will be happy to help you!

TMJ/TMD Splints

At Michael Richards Orthodontics, we understand the discomfort and inconvenience that temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) can bring into your life. These conditions, affecting the jaw joint and the muscles responsible for jaw movement, can lead to symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain and dysfunction. That’s why we’re proud to offer specialized TMD splints, a non-invasive treatment option designed to alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

TMD encompasses a variety of conditions that can cause pain in the jaw joint and the surrounding muscles. Symptoms may include jaw pain, difficulty chewing, clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing the mouth, and even headaches or earaches. These symptoms can stem from various factors, including misalignment of the teeth, trauma, stress, or arthritis.

TMJ/TMD splints, also known as occlusal splints or night guards, are custom-fitted oral appliances that help relieve the strain on your jaw joints and muscles. By carefully realigning and stabilizing your jaw position, these splints can reduce or eliminate the symptoms associated with TMJ/TMD. The benefits of using a TMJ/TMD splint include:

  • Alleviating Jaw Pain By reducing the pressure on your jaw joints, splints can significantly diminish pain and discomfort.
  • Preventing Teeth Grinding Many patients with TMJ/TMD also suffer from bruxism (teeth grinding), which can exacerbate symptoms. A splint can act as a protective barrier, minimizing the impact of grinding on your teeth and jaw.
  • Improving Jaw Function With the jaw properly aligned, you may experience improved function, making it easier to eat, speak, and open your mouth without pain.
  • Reducing Headaches For some patients, TMJ/TMD is a contributing factor to frequent headaches. Properly designed splints can help reduce the frequency and intensity of these headaches.

Our commitment to utilizing the latest in dental technology ensures that your splint will not only be effective but also comfortable to wear. We understand the importance of both immediate relief and long-term solutions, and we’re dedicated to providing treatments that address both aspects.


In certain cases, Dr. Richards may recommend temporary anchorage devices (TADs), also known as “orthodontic mini implants”. This innovative orthodontic technology is effective in aligning teeth with superior results by combining traditional orthodontics with implant technology. TADs are small titanium screws that are temporarily inserted into your bone between the roots of the teeth to enhance orthodontic anchorage. TADs may be used to overcome the limitations that patients can experience with headgear or holding arches or to help carefully perform difficult tooth movements. TADs can also help avert the need for jaw surgery and help move just one or several teeth.

There is minimal or no discomfort when having a TAD inserted because the bone tissue does not have nerve endings. During your treatment, we typically use a topical anesthetic to ensure that the procedure is pain-free. In most cases, we can insert the TAD in only one appointment to our office.

Carriere Distilizer Appliance

Dr. Richards may recommend a Carriere distalizer appliance to help correct your bite and give you a smoother treatment experience. This appliance is designed to help alleviate any existing problems before you receive braces or clear aligners.

Improper bites fall into three basic classifications, varying in terms of the severity of the bite (Class I, Class II, and Class III), and including overbites, underbites, crossbites, and open bites. The Carriere appliance works to correct these bites and ensure your teeth have enough space to move into their proper position during your regular orthodontic treatment. The end result of treatment using the Carriere appliance should help improve your oral function as well as give you a smoother and more effective orthodontic treatment.

The Carriere orthodontic appliance allows for:

  • Reduced overall treatment time
  • A more comfortable treatment

Emergency Care

Dr. Richards and our team provide emergency orthodontic care to help you enjoy a more comfortable treatment experience and to help you keep progressing toward a beautiful smile.

Below are some common orthodontic emergencies, along with some instructions to help you care for your mouth and appliances if you aren’t able to meet with Dr. Richards immediately to resolve the problem:

Loose Brackets or Bands

If a bracket or band is loose it will need to be recemented. In the case of an emergency, it is possible to clip a wire using fingernail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol.

Poking Wires or Wire Irritations

If the wire is irritating your cheeks or gums, you can move it away from the irritated area by using a cotton swab or an eraser on the end of a pencil. If you cannot move the wire, cover the end of it with a small piece of wax to relieve irritation. If the wire is still painful, you can cut it with nail clippers or scissors that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. We recommend that you make an appointment as soon as possible to ensure your comfort and that your treatment is progressing normally.

Lost Separators

Many patients lose a separator over the course of their treatment. If you lose a separator, please make an appointment to determine if it needs to be replaced.

Discomfort With Braces & Orthodontic Treatment

During the first week after your braces are placed and after routine adjustments, you may feel some soreness or discomfort. This is normal, and you do not need to worry. You may want to take acetaminophen or another non-aspirin pain reliever if your teeth are sore.

If you experience any kind of orthodontic emergency, please call our office as soon as possible, even if you have a regular appointment scheduled soon. Our team will make arrangements for you to meet with us and take care of any appliance repairs you may need. We will also provide you with any additional instructions you may need until you arrive for your emergency appointment.