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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 your teeth, gums and jaw joints, by spreading the biting pressure over all your 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 improve their appearance and the way the teeth bite together, while also making them easier to clean.
Some people have upper front teeth that stick out and look unsightly. These ‘prominent’ teeth are more likely to be damaged, but orthodontic treatment can move them back into line. Or 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 of these problems.
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.
At what age should I have orthodontic treatment?
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.
Who carries out orthodontics?
Your dentist may carry out orthodontic treatment. Or they may send you to a specialist who has extra qualifications. The specialist may be in a practice or in a hospital department, and is called an orthodontist.
What does it involve?
The most important thing is to have a full examination. This will usually involve looking at your teeth, taking x-rays and making plaster models of your teeth.
Your dental team or orthodontist will then discuss what treatment is possible. Once you are sure you want to go ahead, the treatment can start as soon as you have enough permanent teeth.
Will I need to have teeth taken out to make room?
You may not have enough room for all your permanent teeth. If so, you may need to have some permanent teeth taken out to make space. Your dental team will tell you whether this is the case. Sometimes space can be made using other forms of treatment.
How is treatment carried out?
Orthodontic treatment can be done by many sorts of appliances, which most people call a ‘brace’.
What is a removable brace?
Simple treatment may be carried out with a removable brace (a plate that can be taken out to be cleaned). It has delicate wires and springs attached, which move the teeth using gentle pressure.
What is a fixed brace?
Often, teeth need to be guided more accurately than they can be using a removable brace. So a fixed brace is used. This has brackets and bands which are temporarily stuck 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.
What is a functional brace?
It is sometimes possible to change the way the jaws grow, using a functional brace. This works by using the power of your jaw muscles and can help with certain types of problem.
What are the brackets made of?
Fixed braces are not always made of metal. Plastic and ceramic can be used, especially for adults.
What is headgear?
As well as a brace some people need to wear headgear. You usually only need to wear it in the evening or at night. If you do not wear it in the way you have been told, your front teeth may stick out at the end of treatment.
What are ‘invisible braces’?
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 two weeks before being replaced with the next one. They are made from clear plastic, so they are nearly invisible. This means that no one need know you are straightening your teeth.
The aligners should be worn for 22 to 23 hours a day for the best results. They can 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.
What are elastics?
Sometimes delicate elastic bands are attached to a fixed brace to help move the teeth. Your orthodontist will tell you if you need elastics.
How long will it take?
The length of treatment depends on how severe the problem is, 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.
What happens when the teeth are in the right position?
When treatment is finished the teeth need to be held in position for a time. This is called the ‘retention’ period, and the appliances that hold the teeth in place are called retainers.
The retainers hold newly straightened teeth in position while the surrounding gum and bone settles. The retainers can be removable or fixed, depending on the original problem.
Will it hurt?
All appliances may feel strange at first, and can cause discomfort. If the problem doesn’t go away, the orthodontist may be able to carry out adjustments to help. Teeth are usually uncomfortable immediately after a brace has been adjusted, but this will settle.
How many visits will it take?
Orthodontic braces usually need adjusting every 4 to 6 weeks. Your orthodontist will tell you how often your brace will need adjusting.
How successful will it be?
Success depends on both the skills of the orthodontist, and the enthusiasm and helpfulness of the patient (and parents, if the patient is a child). It is important to follow any instructions given by the orthodontist and to go to any appointments you have with them.
The success of the treatment also depends on the commitment of the patient. For children’s orthodontic treatment it is very important that the patient is as keen as the parent.
Can orthodontics damage my teeth?
Your teeth can be damaged if you don’t look after them properly during treatment. The braces themselves will not cause damage, but poor cleaning and too many sugary foods and drinks can cause permanent damage to your teeth. Brackets, wires and braces can trap food and cause more plaque than usual to build up. So you need to clean your teeth and appliance very thoroughly.
Is orthodontic work permanent?
Even after retention, it is normal for minor tooth movements to happen throughout life. So no permanent guarantee can be given. However, it is unusual for teeth to alter enough to need more treatment.
How do I go about getting orthodontic treatment?
The first thing to do is to visit your own dental team and get their advice. Your dental team will know whether you need treatment and will make the necessary arrangements.
How do I care for my brace and teeth?
It is important to keep having your teeth checked by your dental team while you are having orthodontic treatment. You also need to take extra care of your teeth and mouth:
- Clean your teeth carefully every day, including between your teeth where you can. Braces are delicate and you need to make sure you clean them carefully so that they do not break. Your dental team will be able to show you the special techniques to use depending on the appliance you are wearing.
- Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks. Avoid snacks and drinks containing sugars, and fizzy drinks. Also, sticky and hard foods may damage your brace.
- Brush your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day. Use a mouthwash if you need to. Your dental team may recommend a stronger fluoride toothpaste, or perhaps a fluoride gel or mouthrinse, for you to use.
Do not hesitate to contact our Dental Helpline or call +91 9798 970 970
Orthodontics › Living with my brace
How long will I have to wear the brace?
- It really depends on how much work there is to do and how far your teeth need to be moved.
- Fixed braces – usually take between 12 and 24 months, but could take longer if the problem is severe.
- Removable braces – usually take less time than a fixed brace. However, you might need to wear a removable brace before and after you have finished your treatment with a fixed brace.
- Your dental team or orthodontist will be able to give you advice about your brace and teeth. If you don’t do what they say, the brace can take longer to work and the treatment may be unsuccessful. If your brace is damaged or broken this can also delay the treatment.
How often should I see the dentist while I am wearing my brace?
You will need to have your brace adjusted regularly to make sure it is working properly. Usually you will have an appointment roughly every six to eight weeks. It is very important that you go to these appointments, or the brace will take a lot longer to work.
Will my mouth be sore in between visits?
Your mouth is very sensitive to change and it will take you a few days to get used to wearing your brace. At first, your teeth may feel uncomfortable because of the pressure the brace puts on them. It may also feel uncomfortable and tight against your teeth after it has been adjusted. Painkillers like ibuprofen or paracetamol can help. Some parts of the brace may also cause discomfort to your gums and lips, causing sore spots. Your dental team or orthodontist can give you a clear wax to put on the part of the brace that is causing discomfort. However, if after a few days any part of your brace is causing continual soreness, you should go back to your dental team or orthodontist.
Will I be able to speak normally?
Sometimes when a brace is fitted, it may affect your speech and cause problems in pronouncing certain words. Lisping may also be a problem at first. But most people soon adapt and begin to speak clearly within a few days.
Is there anything I should avoid?
Nail biting and chewing your pen or pencil can damage or break your brace.
Can I do sports while wearing my brace?
If you have a removable brace it is best to take it out and put it in a brace case. You can buy these from your dentist, or from most large pharmacists. If you do remove your brace, it is important to use a mouthguard and then put your brace back in as soon as possible. It is also best to take your brace out if you are swimming. If you have a fixed brace you should wear a mouthguard designed for use during contact sports over the brace. Your dental team will be able to make you one.
Can I still play musical instruments?
Braces may affect playing wind instruments, although with practice you should get used to it. If your brace is removable then it is best to remove it and store it safely in a brace case. Put it back in straight after you have finished playing.
Can I eat normally?
Eating the wrong foods can damage or even break your brace. For the first few days, it may be better to keep to soft foods.
Whatever type of brace you have, you should avoid sticky, chewy and sugary foods. Chewing gum is not recommended as it can stick to your brace. Avoid hard foods such as whole apples, carrots, French bread and crusty rolls. These foods could break the wires and brackets that are part of your brace.
At first it is best to cut your food into small pieces and keep to a soft diet. Food may build up in the brackets and in between your teeth and will need careful cleaning to remove it.
Avoid fizzy drinks, sodas, pops, carbonated drinks and natural fruit juices, as these are often high in sugar and can be acidic. This can lead to tooth decay and erosion. Fizzy drinks can also stain the brackets of your brace. If you do drink these types of drinks, don’t sip the drink – use a straw instead. Water and plain milk are the safest drinks.
Why should I look after my mouth when I have a brace?
It is very important that you take the time and effort needed to keep your teeth and braces clean. This will help you avoid problems such as tooth decay, inflamed gums, and ‘tooth decalcification’. Decalcification is when you lose the calcium from the surface of your teeth, and this may leave white spots on your teeth after the brace is removed. It is also important to keep having your usual dental check-ups with your regular dental team while you are having orthodontic treatment. This is to make sure that your teeth and mouth stay healthy.
What if I lose or damage my brace?
If you lose or damage your brace tell your dental team or orthodontist as soon as possible. Do not wait until your next appointment. If you are not wearing your brace, or it is not in the correct position, this affects your treatment and makes it more likely that your teeth will go back to their old position. Dentists may charge for lost or broken braces before replacing them.
How should I clean my mouth and brace?
Clean your teeth and the brace thoroughly after each meal. It is best not to brush your teeth until at least one hour after eating. Pay special attention to every tooth and the gum line around it.
What products can help me to look after my mouth and brace?
Total care toothpastes contain a number of active ingredients such as fluoride or tartar control agents to make them an effective multi-action toothpaste. They help control plaque, tooth decay and gum disease, while also freshening your breath.
You can use an electric or ‘power’ toothbrush, although with care, as long as you can get to all your teeth. Ask your dental team or orthodontist about special small brushes which are suitable for cleaning your teeth when wearing a brace.
‘Interdental’ brushes can help you clean a fixed brace. They can get in between your teeth and are ideal for cleaning around the brackets of a fixed brace. Your dental team or pharmacist should stock these.
You can use floss threaders to help you get dental floss under the orthodontic wires to remove trapped bits of food.
Disclosing tablets contain a harmless dye which stains dental plaque. This makes it easier to see where the plaque is when you are brushing. It helps you to make sure that you are brushing your teeth properly. Your dentist, pharmacist or supermarket will stock these.
Using fluoride mouthrinses regularly can help to prevent tooth decay and tooth decalcification. You should only use them if your dental team or orthodontist recommend them, and be sure to follow the instructions they give you.
How do I clean my removable brace?
Your dental team or orthodontist will be able to show you special techniques for cleaning your brace. It is best to clean your brace over a sink full of water so that it isn’t damaged if you drop it. Keep a separate toothbrush just for cleaning your brace. Use toothpaste to clean it. Gently brush the brace and rinse it thoroughly with fresh water afterwards.
Do not hesitate to contact our Dental Helpline or call +91 9798 970 970
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