Orthodontic treatment is a way of straightening or aligning teeth, to improve the appearance of your teeth. It can also help to look after the long-term health of your teeth, gums and jaw joints, by spreading the biting pressure over all your teeth.
Many people have crowded or crooked teeth. Orthodontic treatment will straighten the teeth or move them into a better position. This can improve their appearance and the way the teeth bite together, while also making them easier to clean.
When the teeth don’t meet correctly, this can put strain on the muscles of the jaw, causing jaw and joint problems and sometimes headaches. Orthodontic treatment can help you to bite more evenly and reduce the strain.
The best time is generally during childhood, but adults can have orthodontic treatment too – and more and more are doing so. Age is less important than having the right number of teeth. In children it may be necessary to wait for enough teeth to come through before starting treatment, this can be discussed with the dentist at the routine examinations.
The most important thing is to have a full examination. This will usually
involve looking at your teeth, taking x-rays and could involve making models of your teeth. Your dentist will then discuss what treatment is possible, if the dentist you see regularly is unable to perform orthodontic treatment, they can refer you to an orthodontist to have the treatment. Once you are sure you want to go ahead, the treatment can start as soon as you are happy to proceed.
A fixed brace is used when the movement of teeth is more difficult, or when
the movements are more than just a few millimeters. They have brackets and bands which are temporarily bonded to the teeth. A flexible wire joins all the brackets and allows the teeth to be moved. You can’t take the appliance out yourself, so it is called a fixed appliance. Fixed braces are not always made of metal. Plastic and ceramic can be used, especially for adults, but this would be done on a private basis.
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 up to two weeks before being replaced
with the next one. This means that no one needs to know you are straightening your teeth.
The aligners should be worn for 22 hours a day for the best results. They
should be easily removed for eating, drinking, brushing, and for cleaning in
between your teeth. You need to have all your adult teeth before you can have this treatment.
The length of treatment depends on how severe the problem is, as well as the type of braces used, and it may take anything from a few months to
two-and-a-half years. Most people can be treated in one to two years.
The first thing to do is to visit us for your consultation and get your dentist’s
advice. Your dentist will know whether you need treatment and will make the necessary arrangements.