Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry concerned with diagnosing and treating misaligned teeth, as well as disorders of the jaw. It has grown extensively in recent years, as more and more people seek the smile of their dreams.
Orthodontics helps straighten the teeth, which besides having aesthetic value has a number of other important benefits, including:
Some people have misaligned teeth, and avoid smiling or putting themselves out there because of the effect on their self-esttem.Others may have teethwhich do not meet when they bite down, which affects their ability to eat and speak. This is why orthodontics is very important; it can totally transform how you feel about yourself and interact with others
Normally, treatment lasts from one to three years, depending on the complexity of the case. With orthodontics, it is usually best to begin treatment whilst the skeletal frame and mouth tissuesare still developing, so that the issues can be corrected before the development is permanent. This is why it is so common for children and teenagers to have orthodontic treatment.
If the development of these tissues is already complete in older patients, then a surgical procedure is sometimes needed to re-configure them for orthodontic treatment to succeed. In younger patients, there are more optionsto correct malocclusion because the tissues have not fully developed. They may include orthodontic appliances, and certain types of headgear.
It is worth noting that orthodontic treatment should only be undertaken when oral hygiene is stable, as it can increase the possibility of tooth decay. In patients with poor oral hygiene, this will need to be addressed before orthodontic treatment. It is important to brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, and floss daily, in order to keep all tooth surfaces free from plaque which can cause decay.
“Malocclusion”just means an abnormality or disorder in the normal arrangement and alignment of the teeth. The severity of different malocclusions differ between individuals. It can dependon age and lifestyle, and there is also a considerable genetic element. These malocclusions may lead to individuals needing orthodontic treatment. The treatment method varies depending on the type and extent of the malocclusion.
Below are some factors that result in different malocclusions:
The type of orthodontic treatment required depends mainly on the individual being treated and the severity of the case, but usually, conventional braces are used for correcting misaligned teeth.
In some cases, it may be necessary to remove one or more teeth during treatment. Others may require having to wear headgear at night, or having additional pins fixed in the jaw while still using braces.On average, treatment lasts from one to two years.
Before treatment, the development of your teeth will be examined. This normally includes having your teeth scanned, photographed and modelled to get an idea how they will look after treatment. After this, appliances will be used to straighten the teeth. The appliances used include:
These are the most common and well-known type of orthodontic treatment. They consist of brackets that are glued to the teeth and connected with metal wires. They are not removable, unlike some other braces which can be removed and changed every few weeks.
These braces are used to fix alignment issues which may lead to future complications. They are effective at this, but are not very discreet as they are metallic.For this reason, private orthodontistsoften use braces made of tooth-coloured materials such asceramic or plastic. However, these are typically more expensive options.
As the name implies, these are braces that can be removed when necessary- such as during meals or for brushing. They usually fix over some teeth, and spread over the whole roof of the mouth. They are made of plastic and are used to treat minor issues or used in conjunction with fixed braces. These are often very discreet as they are just trays, as opposed to fixed wires.
Headgear may be used alongside other orthodontic appliances, as they are not appliances on their own. These are obviously not very discreet, and are only worn at night. They are used to hold the posterior (back) teeth in place whilst helping to realign the front teeth.
These are removable appliances which are also made out of plastic. These braces are connected and worn over both the top and bottom teeth to correct their alignment.These appliances have to be worn precisely according to instructions, or they won’t be able to treat the malocclusion. Cleaning the appliance is very important, and it is also necessary to remove them before eating.
In extreme cases, fixed braces alongside surgical intervention may be needed to fix the jaw misalignent. There are also other treatment methods such as invisible or clear braces and lingual braces, but these are more expensive.
Theseare usually used after orthodontic treatment, to prevent the aligned teeth from shifting from their new position. The teeth can revert back to their pre-treatment position if retainers are taken out or not worn properly. This is perfectly normal; our teeth are biologically prone to shifting in their position over time. That is why wearing a retainer day-to-day is the only way to keep your teeth aligned once you finish treatment.
However, the retainers only need to be worn at night so are not noticeable or problematic in your daily life.
Usually, your dentist recommends orthodontic treatment after a check-up and refers you to an orthodontist. However, you can chose whether to be treated under the NHS or privately.
For people below the age of 18 who require orthodontic treatment, the National Health Service provides this for free.
For adults, however, this is only the case if they need orthodontic treatment for certain medical reasons. Eligibility for free treatment is assessed on a rating system known as the Index for Orthodontic Treatment Needs(IOTN).
If you undergo treatment with the National Health Service, they’ll only offer post-treatment care for a year. After which, if you need continuous care, you’ll have to pay privately.
Being approved for free treatment may take a long time. Furthermore, NHS orthodontic treatment methods can be quite limited, and certainmore comfortable methods are not used at all.Therefore, many patients opt for private treatment as it means they do not need to wait extensively to begin treatment, and can be treated with methods which my be more comfortable or suit them more.
Individuals who are not eligible for NHS treatment, or who wish to proceed quickly with treatment, often opt for private orthodontic treatment.
There are a variety of treatment options, but some can be fairly expensive. The total cost can range from £2,000- £6,000. The cost of treatment depends on the complexity of the case, the treatment method, and the experience and expertise of the orthodontist. Your orthodontist will usually provide you with a treatment plan and cost estimate after the initial assessment.
It is usually possible to spread the cost of treatment over time, or use a credit-based payment plan, due to the high cost of orthodontic work.
Usually, you will gradually begin to see the results of orthodontic treatment after a year or so. If you don’t, it may be because you are not doing the following:
It is very important to take very good care of your teeth during treatment to reduce the possibility of developing tooth decay. This may occur because when wearing braces, it may be harder to properly clean the teeth. This can lead to a build-up of plaque (bacteria) whichcan cause tooth decay.
Usually, your orthodontist will instruct you to refrain from particular foods or having certain drinks, as they increase the build-up of plaque. This is also why you will be recommended to use toothpaste that are high in fluoride, and use other cleaning aids.
The appearance of our teeth is very important in how we perceive ourselves, and in turn how we interact with others. It is important to feel good about how we look, and if you trust us with your care for orthodontic treatment, we will put our utmost into giving you the smile you want.