Dental Orthodontic Treatment

Many children and adults have teeth that are crowded, crooked, protruding or which don’t meet properly to bite through food. Generally, it is a good idea to do whatever is possible to correct the situation in order to avoid damage to the teeth, improve the way they look and prevent possible damage to the jaw muscles as well. It can also make teeth harder to clean, leading to poor oral health and, in the most extreme cases, misaligned teeth can even affect the shape of the face.

Orthodontic treatment is the method used to address these issues, generally through the use of braces but, in extreme cases, it can even involve wearing special headgear or having pins temporarily inserted in the jaw.

Orthodontic treatment is generally not begun until all of a child’s adult teeth have emerged, generally at about the age of 12. For adults, treatment can begin at any age.

It’s not generally treatment that’s carried out by a dentist and they will refer you or your child to an orthodontist.

Types of orthodontic treatment

There are numerous different orthodontic treatments which can be used, depending on the corrective procedures recommended.

The first thing a dentist or orthodontist will do is examine the teeth, take photographs and X-rays and probably also moulds. Then a treatment plan will be devised. This might involve several options to talk through with the orthodontist before deciding which one to follow.

There are four main methods:

Fixed braces made up from brackets that are attached to the front of each tooth and linked using wires.

Removable braces that generally have plastic plates that fit in to the roof of the mouth and attach to a few teeth for security. These are generally only used when limited tooth adjustment needs to be made.

Functional appliances that are a pair of plastic braces that are joined together and are designed to fit on top and bottom teeth.

Headgear that is used with other appliances and usually only worn at night.

Other types of appliance that are available include aligners, invisible and lingual braces and the orthodontist will recommend which is the most appropriate.

For more in-depth information about all of these, the British Orthodontic Society website should tell you all you need to know.

Orthodontics FAQ

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Correcting mis-aligned teeth is a slow and gradual process, especially if the best results are going to be achieved. So you should reckon on a timeframe of between 18 and 24 months.

What happens at the end of treatment?

At the end of treatment patients are advised to wear a retainer, at night at least, to hold the straightened teeth in place until they become fully established in their new positions. There will probably be a follow-up appointment or two with the orthodontist to check that the treatment continues to be effective.

Won’t having braces affect my eating?

For the first few days after fitting it will certainly feel a little strange to have braces. After a while patients get used to the feeling and can return to eating their normal diet. But some food and drinks like toffees, cola and hard sweets should be avoided as these can damage the braces and even the teeth.

Miles more smiles.

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