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Orthodontics 101

Orthodontics 101

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a specialised area of dentistry that’s concerned with improving the appearance of your teeth, as well as the way they function and bite together.

Who can provide orthodontic treatment?

Dentists and orthodontists can provide orthodontic treatment

Orthodontic treatment is usually provided by a registered dentist or orthodontist. Orthodontic therapists can also provide treatment under the supervision of a dentist or orthodontist.

How do we move teeth?


During orthodontic treatment, teeth are aligned using braces. These can be removable, or fixed to the teeth for the duration of your treatment. These days, braces come in many different discreet shapes and sizes, including Invisalign, which is removable and virtually invisible.

Who is suitable for orthodontic treatment?

Everyone can benefit from braces – there’s no upper age limit. But you do need to be clinically suitable for treatment, for example your teeth must be clean and healthy. During your initial consultation your clinician will assess whether braces are right for you.

How long does it take to straighten teeth?

Treatment times vary from patient-to-patient and are usually dependant on the complexity of your case. If your teeth are mildly crooked at the front, for example, your treatment could be completed within a matter of weeks. While complex cases can take closer to two years. Your clinician will be able to give you an idea of how long your treatment should take during your consultation.

What are the benefits of orthodontic treatment?

There are many reasons why we straighten crooked teeth, and while most people are motivated by the appearance of their smile, braces can also improve the health of your mouth. Straight teeth are easier to keep clean and by improving your bite we can avoid excessive wear to particular teeth.

Are there any disadvantages?

Providing you’re a suitable candidate, there are few disadvantages to orthodontic treatment, but it’s important to be aware of all the potential risks. Braces can cause a certain degree of root shortening. For most patients the change is insignificant, but in very rare cases the roots can shorten more dramatically and affect the stability of your teeth. Furthermore, if you don’t keep your teeth clean during your orthodontic treatment, you could potentially experience tooth decay and permanent staining.

Are braces painful?

Orthodontic treatment can be uncomfortable at times, but overall you should experience very little pain. You will probably find that your teeth ache just after your brace has been fitted and following any adjustments. If you opt for a fixed brace, you may also experience some irritation from your brackets. This can usually be managed with the help of some orthodontic wax, which will smooth any troublesome areas.

Do teeth stay straight after braces?

Yes, you will be provided with fixed and/or removable retainers to keep your teeth straight after your brace is removed. However, if you stop wearing your retainers, your teeth could start to move. This is known as ‘orthodontic relapse’.

What are the alternatives to orthodontic treatment?

Dental veneers are sometimes an alternative to orthodontic treatment. However, while they can ‘straighten’ teeth, they can only make limited changes to your bite. Veneers are used to disguise crooked teeth behind a thin layer of porcelain. They can provide quick results and look great (many celebrities have veneers to thank for their Hollywood smiles). However, it’s worth bearing in mind that they’re not reversible and in most cases some of your natural tooth will be removed to accommodate your veneers.

Can I have braces if I have a crown or dental implant?

Yes, we can usually work around existing crowns, bridges and implants, although we can only move teeth that have natural roots. This means we can straighten the teeth around your implant, but we won’t be able to move the implant itself. Some patients have orthodontic treatment prior to an implant or crown, to get the surrounding teeth and roots into the best position.

For more information on braces, browse our website or contact us to organise your free consultation*.

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