What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a specialty in dentistry concerned with the position of the teeth and jaws (malocclusion). Orthodontic treatment aims to correct the position of the teeth and jaws to improve function and the aesthetics of the smile.
At what age can you have orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontic treatment can be carried out at any age if you are concerned about the alignment of your teeth or any functional problems during eating please seek advice from a specialist orthodontist.
What is an orthodontist or specialist orthodontist?
In the UK any general dental practitioner can call themselves an orthodontist and they have not undergone any further postgraduate training. A Specialist orthodontist has undergone further postgraduate training specialising in orthodontics for three years, usually with a master’s degree and membership to the Royal College of Surgeons. The General Dental Council holds a list of the all specialists and their inclusion as a registered specialist. If you are unsure please search the general dental council register on their website.
How is treatment carried out?
Orthodontic treatment can be carried out by using many sorts of appliances systems, which most people know as ‘braces'. These can be fixed or removable. They impart gentle forces to the teeth which enables them to move and straighten. At Smile Orthodontics we can offer a variety of braces and we will inform you on which ones are the best to use for your particular case.
What is a removable appliance?
Simple treatments may be carried out with a removable appliance (a plate that can be taken out to be cleaned). It has delicate wires and springs attached, which move the teeth using gentle pressure. These braces are usually used as an adjunct to fixed braces and are seldom used for definitive treatment.
What is a functional appliance?
It is sometimes possible to change the way the jaws grow, using orthodontic appliances. These functional appliances use the power of your jaw muscles and can help with certain types of problems to try and achieve or restore the growth of the jaws so that the teeth and facial profile can be improved, these appliances work best during a child's active growth spurt.
What is a fixed appliance?
Often, teeth need to be guided more accurately than they can be using a removable plate. So fixed appliances are used. The majority of orthodontic treatment carried out is with fixed appliances as they are more precise and efficient. Fixed appliances have brackets and bands temporarily stuck to the teeth for the duration of treatment. A flexible wire joins all the brackets and allows the teeth to be moved gently and accurately into their position. It is not possible for the patient to take the appliance out and so it is called a fixed appliance. They can be made of metal or ceramic and can be placed on the front surface or the inside surfaces of the teeth, please ask your dentist which are best suited for you.
What are the brackets made of?
Fixed braces are not always made of metal. Plastic and ceramic can be used, especially for adults. You cannot generally get these braces on the NHS but they are offered as a private treatment option. The metal braces used at Smile Orthodontics are made of stainless steel and the clear ceramic braces of monocrystalline ceramic the lingual braces are made of gold. Colours can be added to the braces with the rubber elastics that attach the wire to the braces. Please ask if you want colours on the brace.
What are 'invisible braces'?
They are tough, clear plastic ‘aligners' (moulds) that are used to straighten teeth. Several sets of specially moulded, slightly different aligners are made for each patient. Each set is worn for two to three weeks before being replaced with the next one. They are made from clear plastic, so they are nearly invisible. This means that no one need know you are straightening your teeth.
The aligners should be worn for 22 to 23 hours a day for the best results. They can be easily removed for eating, drinking, brushing and flossing. You need to have all your adult teeth before you can have this treatment. Not all cases are suitable for aligner treatment and your orthodontist will advise you if you are suitable.
Lingual braces are fixed braces that are attached to the inside of the teeth and are completely invisible. They cannot be removed and are stuck to the teeth for the duration of treatment. The advantage is that the can treat more complex cases with being completely invisible.
What happens when the teeth are in the right position?
When treatment is finished the teeth need to be held in position. This period is called retention, and the appliances that hold the teeth in place are called retainers.
The retainers hold newly straightened teeth in position while the surrounding gum and bone settles. They are then used indefinitely to maintain the position of the teeth. If retainers are not worn then the teeth will move as all teeth move over time. The retainers can be removable or fixed depending on the original problem. There are many types of retainers and we are happy to discuss the options and discuss both the advantages and disadvantages of different retainers.
Retention is very important and will be long term for the desire result to be maintained.
How many visits will it take?
Orthodontic appliances usually need adjusting every 6 to 8 weeks. Your orthodontist will tell you how often your appliance will need adjusting. Treatment duration varies for every patient but on average it takes approximately two years.
Is orthodontic work permanent?
Even after retention, it is normal for minor tooth movements to happen throughout life, so no permanent guarantee can be given. At Smile Orthodontics we believe that retention should be long term to maintain the desired result.
How do I go about getting orthodontic treatment?
Your dentist can refer you for NHS Orthodontics and advise you if you are likely to qualify for treatment on the NHS. Self-referral is also possible and you can call our practice for an appointment however this will be on a private basis. NHS treatment is available to those under the age of 18 and who also qualify for treatment under the NHS IOTN criteria. Unfortunately not every child is eligible for NHS treatment. Your Orthodontist will inform you if your child qualifies for treatment under the NHS.
How do I care for my brace and teeth?
Please look at our advice sheets on how to care for your appliances. They can be printed off for future use and reference.
It is important to continue to have your teeth checked by your dentist while having orthodontic treatment. You also need to take extra care of your teeth and mouth during treatment.
Clean your teeth carefully every day, including between your teeth. Appliances are delicate and you need to make sure you clean them carefully so that they do not break. Your dentist or hygienist will be able to show you the special techniques to use depending on the appliance you are wearing.
Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks. Avoid ‘snacking' on foods or drinks containing sugars, and on fizzy drinks. Also, sticky, chewy and hard foods may damage the delicate orthodontic appliances and are best avoided. Clean your teeth after every meal to ensure that no food is stuck in the braces or between your teeth.
Brush your teeth for two minutes each time with a fluoride toothpaste and use a fluoride mouthwash to help protect your teeth. Your dentist or hygienist may recommend a fluoride toothpaste / Mouthwash and instruct you on its use. The use of an electric toothbrush or a manual tooth brush is recommended along with interdental brushes to help you clean around the braces and wires. More time will be necessary when brushing to enable you to clean thoroughly and protect your teeth during treatment to avoid any marks or early decay developing on the teeth.