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?
Orthodontic treatment in London and the UK can be 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 repositioned using braces. These can be removable, or fixed to the teeth for the duration of your treatment. If you can remember the metal train tracks from your school days, you’ll be relieved to hear that you can now choose from more discreet, ‘invisible’ braces.
Who is suitable for orthodontics?
Everyone can benefit from braces – there’s no age limit. But you do need to be clinically suitable for treatment, for example your teeth must be clean and healthy. During your consultation your clinician will assess whether braces are right for you.
How long does treatment take?
Treatment times vary patient-to-patient and are usually dependant on the complexity of your case. If your teeth are only slightly crooked at the front, for example, your treatment could be completed within a matter of weeks. 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 at your initial consultation.
What are the benefits of orthodontics?
There are many reasons why we straighten crooked teeth, and while most people are motivated by the appearance of their teeth, braces can also improve the health of your smile. Straight teeth are easier to keep clean and by improving your bite we can avoid excessive wear to certain 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 minute, but in very rare cases the roots can shorten more obviously, leading to less stable teeth. And if you don’t keep your teeth clean during your orthodontic treatment you could potentially suffer from 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 might also experience some rubbing from the brackets. This can usually be managed with the help of some orthodontic wax, which will smooth any sharp areas.
Do teeth stay straight after treatment?
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 drift back towards their pre-treatment position.
What are the alternatives to orthodontic treatment?
Dental veneers are a possible alternative to orthodontic treatment, but 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 amazing (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 make room for the 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.