Many people have crowded or crooked teeth. Orthodontic treatment is a way of straightening or moving teeth, to improve the appearance of the teeth and how they work. It also helps with long term health as it will facilitate cleaning, and also improves the prognosis for teeth and restorations by spreading the biting pressure evenly over all the teeth as Nature intended.
Another very important ‘hidden’ benefit is the regeneration of new bone and gum associated with the tooth movements.
Q. Why should I have orthodontics?
A. Some patients have upper front teeth that stick out and look unsightly. These prominent ‘bugs’ teeth are vulnerable and more likely to be damaged, but orthodontic treatment can move them back in to line and protect them. Others may have the reverse of this and have an unsightly ‘reverse overbite’ with extensive wear to the teeth. Orthodontics alone may be able to correct such discrepancies of jaw size but sometimes, in extreme cases, ‘orthognathic surgery’ may be needed to fully correct the problem.
Q. At what age should I have orthodontic treatment?
A. Orthodontics can be done at any age and more and more adults are now undergoing treatment. Here at ‘the gentle dentist’ we feel strongly that it is preferable to be patient and place your own, untouched teeth in the correct position to produce beautiful aesthetics, than to mutilate teeth and place restorations that will have a finite life span and require expensive replacements at a later stage.
Q. Who carries out orthodontics?
A. Although any dentist can carry out orthodontic treatment, here at ‘the gentle dentist’ we feel strongly that it should be carried out by a specialist orthodontist. This opinion is backed up by recent articles showing that the majority of litigation in relation to orthodontics is against non-specialists who have used ‘invisible’ techniques.
At ‘the gentle dentist’ we are extremely fortunate to have as our in-house expert the services of Dr David Young. David is a Consultant Orthodontist at Queen Marys Hospital and specialises in adult orthodontics, particularly complicated cases that may require orthognathic surgery.
Q. What does orthodontics involve?
A. The most important thing is an examination of your teeth and jaws. Dr Young will then discuss what treatment is best for you and will send you a comprehensive report and estimate of costs. Once you are sure you want to go ahead, the treatment can start as soon as we are sure your teeth and gums are healthy.
Q. Will I need to have teeth out?
A. Wherever possible, particularly in adults, we avoid removing teeth but there may be some cases where removal is necessary. However, Dr Young will discuss this with you during your consultation.
Q. How is treatment done?
A. There are many methods of treatment, and modern techniques such as ‘incognito’ are completely invisible. Dr Young will discuss all alternatives with you and you and he will decide which is most appropriate for you.
Q. What are ‘invisible braces’?
A. There are two different ‘invisible’ techniques;
- Lingual appliances
These are custom made metal brackets that are cemented to the inside of the teeth and are therefore completely invisible. They are more expensive than brackets fitted to the front surface of the teeth as the cost of manufacture of the individualised brackets is higher.
These are tough, clear plastic ‘aligners’ or’ moulds’. Several sets of specially moulded, slightly changing aligners are made and each one is worn for a period of about two weeks before being replaced with the next one. They should be worn for 22-23 hours a day but can be removed for eating, drinking and cleaning.
Q. How long does it take?
A. Treatment duration depends on the severity of the case but Dr Young will give you an idea of the time scale at the time of your initial consultation. When treatment is completed the teeth need to be held in place for a period of time to allow the bone and gum to settle and mature. This is known as retention and the appliances that hold the teeth are called ‘retainers’. The retainers can be either removable or fixed depending on the original problem.
Q. How many visits are needed?
A. Visits are usually every 6-8 weeks and the number will depend on the severity of the case.
Q. Will it hurt?
A. All appliances feel strange and a little uncomfortable to begin and routine analgesics may be necessary for a few days when the appliance is adjusted. The teeth will then settle.
Q. How successful will it be?
A. Success is dependent on the skills of the orthodontist and your own commitment and compliance. It is important to attend regularly and carry out all instructions given by Dr Young. In most cases complete aims of treatment are achieved.
Q. Can orthodontic treatment damage my teeth?
A. Your teeth can be damaged if they are not properly looked after during treatment. The appliances themselves will not cause damage but poor cleaning and high sugar intake can cause permanent damage. Brackets, wires and braces can trap food more than usual so it is important to keep regular appointments with Chris, our hygienist, to monitor your standards of home care.
Q. Is orthodontics permanent?
A. Minor tooth movements will happen throughout life so it is important that you maintain your retention regime. No guarantee can be given but if you adhere to retention protocols it is unlikely for teeth to alter enough to require further treatment.
Q. How much does it cost?
A. Cost is dependent on the severity of the case, time involved and method of treatment. Dr Young will give you a written report and estimate after your consultation.