What does the term orthodontics mean?

Orthodontics is the name given to the branch of dentistry that deals in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of dental as well as facial irregularities. Orthodontics straightens teeth with the use of fixed or removable appliances. Fixed appliances can be conventional “train track” braces or lingual braces (braces fixed to the inside of the teeth). Invisalign is an example of a clear brace that is also a removable appliance.

What is an orthodontist’s function?

An orthodontist is a specialist with an advanced education undertaken after dental school to learn the special skills required to manage tooth movement and also to guide facial development.

What are some possible benefits of orthodontics?

Crowded and crooked teeth are more difficult to clean and to maintain and may result in tooth decay or gum disease that could lead to tooth loss. Compromised oral health has been associated with other medical conditions as well. Teeth that are properly aligned are easier to clean, brush and floss allowing you to maintain your oral health much more easily. Other orthodontic problems can contribute to inefficient chewing function, excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth, abnormal wear of tooth surfaces or even to misalignment of the jaw joints leading to chronic headaches and neck or face pain. Orthodontic treatment can be less costly than the additional care and cost that will be needed to treat dental problems that have arisen as a result of untreated orthodontic problems.
Early treatment for children often helps to make room for permanent teeth before they erupt. Crowded teeth in children needs orthodontic treatment and if this is not undertaken the likelihood that permanent teeth will need to be taken out is increased. We have the technology to deal with severe crowding and decrease the chances of this in a timely manner. Severe overbite (upper teeth protruding or sticking out over the lower teeth) will leave the upper front teeth vulnerable to chipping, breaking and even being knocked out. With orthodontic treatment the upper front teeth will be closer to the lower front teeth decreasing the chances of tooth trauma. Crossbites (upper teeth inside of the lower teeth) can result in uneven growth and tooth wear or even to jaw problems later in life.

Your smile is a big part of your self-confidence. There have been many studies that have shown we feel better when orthodontic treatment has given us confident smile and what better gift could you give your child?

What are some of the signs that braces might be required?
  • Upper front teeth protruding over the lower teeth.
  • Bucked
    upper front teeth that cover the lower teeth when biting together
  • Upper front teeth that are behind or inside lower front teeth
  • Upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together
  • Crowded or overlapping teeth
  • Misalignment of the centre line of the upper and lower teeth
  • Thumb or finger sucking habits that go on after six or seven years old
  • Difficulty in chewing
    or biting
  • Teeth wear that is uneven or excessive
  • A shift of the lower jaw to one side or the other when biting together
  • Gaps or spaces between teeth
What is the best age for orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment can start at any age but orthodontists like to see children by age six or seven. The first adult molars erupt at this time and will establish the bite of the back teeth. An orthodontist will be able to evaluate side-to-side and front-to-back tooth relationships. An example is the presence of erupting incisors (the front four teeth, top and bottom) that can indicate a developing overbite, protrusion, crossbite, open bite, crowding, or the development of a gummy smile. At this early stage, it may not be necessary to have orthodontic treatment but a thorough examination will give the best idea of what the best time to begin treatment will be. If you have missed this recommended age, don’t worry- it’s never too late to take steps towards that new great smile!

Am I too old to have orthodontic treatment?

No you are never too old for orthodontic treatment. As long as your teeth, gums and volume of bone are healthy there will be options. If you feel uncomfortable about the look of braces, then Invisalign or lingual braces might be the answer for you..

What will the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation be for my child?

When treatment starts early, the orthodontist will be able to oversee the growth of the jaw and keep an eye on the emerging permanent teeth. Early treatment will also be able to regulate the width of the lower and upper dental arches and will allow for space to be gained for permanent teeth to grow into. This should avoid a need for permanent tooth extractions later and will also reduce the likelihood of permanent teeth becoming impacted, correct issues around thumb-sucking, and eradicate problem swallowing and speech problems. In other words, early treatment can reduce or even avoid future potentially more serious problems

What is meant by Phase I and Phase II treatment?

Phase I, - early interceptive treatment, orthodontic treatment that is limited (e.g., braces or an expander applied to some of the teeth) before the eruption of all of the permanent teeth. Such treatment is usually given between the ages of 6 and 10. Treatment of this kind is sometimes recommended to make more space for teeth that are developing and will create facial symmetry by influencing jaw growth, correcting crossbites, overbites (Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth), and underbites, or any harmful oral habits.

Severe overbites, excessive overjet (upper teeth sticking out over lower teeth), underbites and openbites can be difficult to correct. It is a great idea to take advantage of orthodontic treatment before the growth is complete. Phase I treatment could also reduce treatment time with braces in phase II.

Phase II treatment or comprehensive treatment involves full braces applied when all of the permanent teeth have come through, usually between 11 and 13 years of age.

Can an adult patient benefit from orthodontic treatment?

People commonly think that braces are only used for treating children and teenagers. People might imagine it is too late once they are adult but they may well be mistaken. Orthodontic treatment can achieve a successful result at any age and adults will always appreciate the benefits of a great smile.
Teeth can still be moved in an adult, as the biological process is the same as in children. Some differences exist between the orthodontic treatment of adults and children, in the main because of the lack of growth in adults that inhibits the making of some of corrections that are possible in children. If an adult’s problem is largely due to jaw discrepancy an approach combining orthodontics and orthognathic “jaw” surgery can be tried. This treatment option can result in dramatic improvements in the appearance of the face and the function of the teeth and jaws.
Adult orthodontic treatment is often indicated by treatment planned by a dentist. A combined approach is often best if teeth are missing or misshapen and if there is a plan to replace them or to do restoration work with bridges, crowns, or dental implants. This kind of orthodontic treatment repositions teeth adjacent to a site where a tooth is missing so that the right sized and shaped replacement tooth can be made. Teeth that are overlapped and crowded can be straightened to allow for better cleaning might have had some breakdown or loss of their teeth or to the bone that supports the teeth and periodontal treatment might be needed before, during, and/or after orthodontic treatment. Bone loss will also have a bearing on the amount of tooth movement that is advisable and the direction of that movement.

How will I know if I am a good candidate for orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment will not only improve the aesthetics of the smile; orthodontic treatment will also help achieve dental, facial and skeletal symmetry and harmony. Bid bites called malocclusions may result from tooth or jaw misalignment. Malocclusions will affect the way that you smile how you chew and clean your teeth and most importantly, maybe, how you feel about your smile.

Why is it necessary for a malocclusion to be treated?

Studies have shown that malocclusions that are left untreated, or a less than ideal bite may result in several problems. Malocclusions are often impossible to spot without training. Teeth may appear to be fine, but there may be problems with the way they fit together. An orthodontist will have had 2-3 years more specialty training after their initial dental training to train them to look at and treat crowding of teeth, how the teeth fit together, and how the teeth will look and function.

How does the process of orthodontic treatment actually work?

Orthodontic appliances come in metal, ceramic or plastic (an example is Invisalign®), and might be removable or might be brackets that are bonded to the teeth.
The two main components are the brackets on the teeth and the archwire.
The archwire on the brackets, try to adopt the original shape. It applies pressure to move teeth to more ideal positions. Constant, gentle force is applied by the braces to slowly move teeth to the correct position. This is the perfect time for orthodontic treatment! Choose brackets that are metal or clear or ask if you could be a candidate for Invisalign® treatment. Choose the colour of the ties for use on your brackets. Wires are now less noticeable than previously and the latest materials will help to move teeth faster with more comfortably.

How long will a course of orthodontic treatment take?

Treatment times will vary, but the average time is between one and two years. Treatment time will be affected by the rate of growth and the correction needed. Length of treatment also depends on compliance by the patient. Good oral hygiene and regular dental appointments are very important if treatment time is to be kept on schedule.

How much will my course of orthodontic treatment cost?

No two orthodontic situations will be the same and so the cost of orthodontic treatment will vary depending on the severity of the problem and what treatment is required.

Will wearing braces hurt?

Having bands and brackets on your teeth will not hurt. Once braces are placed and connected to their archwires some soreness of your teeth may be present for between one and four days. Also your lips and cheeks might need time to adjust and it will normally take about two weeks to get used to the braces. In the first few days after the braces are fitted, there may be some discomfort. Paracetamol is recommended while you adjust to new braces.

What is a retainer? Will I need one? Will my teeth always stay straight?

After orthodontic treatment retainers need to be worn. The final orthodontic result depends a lot on the retainers to maintain the hard work you’ve put in. Retainers have to be worn full time night and day during the first 3 months then overnight for a further period of time. Retainers should be removed before brushing, and should themselves be brushed before being placed back in the mouth. There is the option of bonded retainers where a piece of wire is fixed to the inner surface of the front teeth. This usually does away with the need to wear removable retainers but care must be taken not to break them. The longer retainers are worn, the better. It is important to remember that teeth will move throughout our lives whether or not we have orthodontic treatment.

I play sports, will braces interfere with that?

It is recommended, that patients protect their teeth and braces with a mouth guard in any contact sporting activity. Mouth guards are not expensive, they are comfortable, and come in a variety of patterns and colours and we can help you choose the best one for you. If you do have an accident, immediately check your mouth and the appliance in case there is any damage. If there are any loose teeth, or if the appliance has been damaged, please contact us right away. Temporarily relieve the discomfort with wax or using a warm saltwater mouthwash.

Do I really need to wear a mouth guard?

It really is a good idea to wear a removable device to protect your teeth and mouth from injury while playing sport. Using a mouth guard is very important for orthodontic patients.
Normally a child who is growing would need a new mouth guard annually. Teeth and bones may be growing, and mouth guards are flexible, and will accommodate movement. Older children and adults might not being growing as much but a mouth guard will still wear down and should be checked annually.

Will wearing braces interfere when I am playing a musical instrument?

It shouldn’t. There might be an initial period of adjustment but brace covers can be provided and will prevent discomfort.

Will braces change the way I speak?

Conventional braces should not affect speech. Removable braces and Lingual braces when first worn on the upper teeth can temporarily affect your speech. People will adapt within the first few weeks and their speech will return to normal.

Will my teeth be likely to sustain any damage as a result of my treatment?

Good oral hygiene is extremely important in preventing decalcification of the teeth. Good tooth brushing can minimise the effects of decalcification and largely prevent it. Resorption of tooth roots can also occur although this can happen throughout life even without braces.

What will happen at my first appointment?

A first appointment is designed for us to meet you and understand your concerns and aspirations. After an initial examination we will discuss whether orthodontics is the best treatment for you. If orthodontic treatment is indicated then an appointment is arranged to fully explore your dental issues and then conduct an in depth consultation. A quote for your treatment will be provided.

Should I still be seeing my general dentist while I am wearing braces?

Continue to see your general dentist every six months for dental check-ups and for cleanings

How do I start?

Come in and see us. Call the surgery to make an appointment for consultation. You will be glad you did. This can be a great and very positive life-changing move.

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