- What is orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontic treatment is a way of straightening or moving teeth, to improve the appearance of the teeth and how they work. It can also help to look after the long-term health of teeth, gums and jaw joints, by spreading the biting pressure over all the teeth.
- Why should I have orthodontic treatment?
Many people have crowded or crooked teeth. Orthodontic treatment will straighten the teeth or move them into a better position. This can not only improve their appearance but also the way the teeth bite together, while also making them easier to clean. In some patients the upper front teeth can stick out and look unsightly. These “prominent” teeth are more likely to be damaged, but orthodontic treatment can move them all back into line. In others, the way the upper and lower jaws meet can cause teeth to look unsightly and lead to an incorrect bite. Orthodontic treatment may be able to correct both. When the teeth don’t meet correctly, this can put a strain on the muscles of the jaw, causing jaw and joint problems and in some cases headaches. Orthodontic treatment can help you to bite more evenly and reduce the strain.
- At what age should I have orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontic treatment is generally best carried out in children, but adults can have orthodontic treatment too. Age is less important than having the proper number of teeth. In children it may be necessary to wait for enough teeth to come through before starting treatment.
- Who carries out orthodontics?
We have an orthodontist, Dr Jarlath Durkan, who attends our practice on a Wednesday and he carries out all the orthodontic treatment.
- What does the first visit involve?
The most important thing is to have a full examination first of all. This will usually involve looking at your teeth and gums and taking x-rays. The orthodontist will then discuss what treatment is possible and organise a treatment plan.
- Will I need to have teeth taken out to make room for my other teeth to move?
You may not have enough room for all your permanent teeth and so it may be necessary to take out some permanent teeth to make space. The orthodontist will tell you whether this is the case.
- How is the treatment carried out?
A fixed appliance, or braces as they are more commonly known, are used to help straighten the teeth. This consists of brackets and bands which are temporarily stuck to the teeth. A flexible wire joins all the brackets and allows the teeth to be moved. It is not possible for the patient to take the appliance out and so it is called a fixed appliance.
- Will it hurt?
The braces may feel strange to begin with and can cause discomfort but this will settle in time. Teeth are also uncomfortable immediately after the braces are adjusted.
- How many visits will it take?
The braces will usually need to be adjusted every 4 to 6 weeks. The orthodontist will always tell you how often your braces need to be adjusted.
- How long will the treatment take?
The length of the treatment depends on how severe the problem is, and may take anything from a few months to two and a half years. Most people can be treated in one to two years.
- What happens when the teeth are in the right position?
When treatment is finished all the brackets, bands and wires are removed from your teeth and impressions of your teeth are taken. The teeth then need to be held in position for a period of time by appliances called retainers. These retainers are to be worn constantly for the first three months after having the braces removed and then only at night time after those initial three months. A permanent retainer (which is a small wire) is also fixed to the back to your teeth to help keep them straight.
- Is orthodontic work permanent?
Even after retention, it is normal for minor tooth movement to happen throughout life, so no permanent guarantee can be given. However, it is unusual for teeth to alter enough to need further treatment.
- Can orthodontics damage my teeth?
Your teeth can be damaged if they are not properly looked after during treatment. Appliances will not in themselves cause damage, but poor cleaning and too many sugary foods and drinks can cause permanent damage. Brackets, wires and braces can trap food and cause more plaque than usual to build up. So the teeth need to be cleaned very thoroughly. It is recommended to see your dental hygienist every six months to have your teeth cleaned especially when you have braces.
- How do I care for my braces and teeth?
It is important to continue to have your teeth checked by your dentist and cleaned by your hygienist regularly while having orthodontic treatment. Brush and floss your teeth twice a day as usual and also after you eat. You are also advised to use a mouthwash.