Orthodontic treatment can be a very scary procedure, especially as your face and the way your teeth look and feel will change several times before reaching the final form. In the interim period you may experience a bite that is more painful, more uneven, and more pathological than the one you currently have, you may encounter aesthetic problems, and you may feel like ending the whole process right then and there. Don’t! It is quite common for orthodontic treatment to get a lot worse before it starts getting better.
The science of shifting teeth brings with it many intermediate positions which may be quite awkward. Depending on the amount of change that needs to be done, some of these intermediate positions will seem like a mistake, and you may even think that the treatment has gone horribly wrong. In reality, the truth is that teeth can only be moved very slowly, or otherwise they damage the alveolus, the gums and may even cause nerve damage. So when slowly moving the teeth from the position they are in to a completely different one, especially if rotation is involved, you may see quite a few completely different and really, really wrong positions.
One of the problems you may see is that your cheeks may seem sunken. This is especially the case if extractions were involved, as the place where the teeth were are now gaps, and the cheeks will sink in and create a sunken, unhealthy look. This is from loss of material there to push it out, and hence the look. However, once teeth are back where they should be, your cheeks will look like they used to.
Pain, cracking noises
It is very common to experience all kinds of pain while in braces. Activation sessions are always a little painful, but they should start to become less and less uncomfortable as time goes on. What can cause problems, though, is when the braces scratch up the cheeks or the lips, or when the teeth are in such an angle as to touch something else, especially when biting down. This will end up harming the soft tissues, which will cause pain. A little dental wax can help prevent this. Cracking noises can be heard at first during the activation sessions, and sometimes directly after it as well. This is absolutely nothing to be afraid of, and will cease in time.
Nothing to be afraid of
The real problem is if there is pain or unsightly teeth after the braces come off. If that is the case, then the treatment was a failure. But during treatment, anything can happen, and the results are almost always great. To ease your mind, ask your dentist what intermediate forms you will experience before the end of your treatment - the knowledge of them may make them less scary when they do appear.