When is the best time to consider orthodontic treatment?
I recommend children having an orthodontic assessment at age 8 to determine the nature of their bite. Comprehensive treatment is best carried out as soon as the permanent teeth erupt (unless any are stuck).
Do I need orthodontic treatment?
Although orthodontic treatments are usually sought for cosmetic purposes, there are many scenarios where tooth positions or the bite can cause damage to the teeth or functional problems if left untreated.
What is the best brace to have between fixed braces (metal and ceramic), aligner braces (Invisalign), lingual braces (Incognito)?
There are many different brace options each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the bite, the desired tooth movements, and the patient preferences, there are certain braces which I find more efficient and effective.
How long will the treatment take?
Most orthodontic treatments which correct the tooth positions and bite take between 12-18 months to complete. It is possible to achieve results in as little as 3 months for simple tooth movements.
Will orthodontic treatment be painful?
The process of having braces fitted is pain-free. Patients usually experience some tenderness with their teeth once the braces start to take effect (usually for 3-4 days after placement and adjustments).
Will I achieve the same result regardless of who treats me?
Orthodontic results are based on a number of factors such as stage of growth, types of tooth movement, co-operation with the appliances and many more. However, much like any other service, the clinician carrying out the treatment also plays a significant role in the outcome. In my experience, it is not the type of brace that delivers the outcome, but more so the way the brace is utilised by the clinician.
What's the difference between a Specialist Orthodontist, a Dentist and an Orthodontic Therapist?
An Orthodontic Therapist is a clinician who works under the direction of the Orthodontist in carrying out certain procedures. They have usually been through dental nurse training and a 1 year course in Orthodontic Therapy.
A Dentist will have undergone 5 years of training and is able to provide a variety of dental procedures; some will have carried out additional training to be able to provide certain brace systems.
A Specialist Orthodontist will have undertaken at least 10 years training by first qualifying as a Dentist and then later joining a Hospital orthodontics training programme, achieving a Masters degree and nearly always completion of the Membership in Orthodontics Diploma (MOrth). They are also registered as specialists in orthodontics with the General Dental Council.
How often do different components of the braces need to changed?
Some wires do not need to be changed for a long period of time (many months), as they can still be active when engaged in the brackets and applying orthodontic force to the teeth. They are normally changed every 2-4 months however.
The elastic bands that are tied over the wires to secure them in, can also last many months providing they are still holding the wires in place. However, due to the material composition, these elastics can begin to perish with time (normally 4-6 months).
The brackets on the teeth (metal or ceramic), do not usually need to be changed throughout the course of treatment, unless tooth position changes are desired.
Do I need to wear retainers?
I recommend that anyone undergoing orthodontic treatment, has retainers provided at the end of their treatment. This is to ensure the tooth positions are maintained as there are many factors which can cause the teeth to move, losing the orthodontic result.
What is the best type of retainer?
Every case is treated individually, but generally speaking, I find the most effective solution is a combination of fixed and removable retainers. This way, the front teeth (which I find are generally the most unstable) are held in position by the fixed retainer wires and the rest of the teeth are kept in position with the removable retainers which are usually worn a few nights in the week.
What should I do if my retainer is broken?
Depending on the type of retainer you have, it may be possible to repair your retainer or it may be necessary to have a replacement retainer made. The first thing to do is to contact your Orthodontist to seek their advice.
What do I do if I haven't worn my retainer in months?
After a long period of time (even after a couple of weeks) when retainers have not been worn, there is a chance that teeth could move out of position, meaning that a retainer may no longer fit properly. If a retainer does not fit properly, it can potentially cause damage to teeth by applying too much pressure, or it simply will not hold the teeth in position. I would recommend you visit an Orthodontist to discuss the best options for you.
What are the white marks I have noticed on my teeth after having my braces taken off?
Sometimes white marks on the teeth are areas of "hypomineralisation" which are areas of different enamel structure - these areas may have been present before the braces or they may have developed during treatment - you can ask your Orthodontist to see your photos from before your treatment if you are not sure. Immediately after the braces are removed, sometimes the marks appear most visible and they will usually become less obvious with time. There are options available to mask the marks or to treat them - it is best to speak with your Orthodontist about them.