Orthodontic braces are either fixed or removable
Fixed braces consist of brackets which are cemented (glued) to your teeth and which hold flexible wires in place. These wires exert pressure on your teeth, gently moving them into their correct positions over the course of your treatment.
Removable braces can be taken in and out of the mouth. They have delicate wires and springs attached, which move the teeth using gentle pressure. These are used for less complex cases that may be more cosmetically oriented, or in conjunction with fixed braces as part of a combined treatment.
Many cases can also be treated with clear aligners, which are more comfortable to wear, and easier to keep clean. There are numerous types of aligners available, with Invisalign being the best known.
When should orthodontic treatment commence?
There are no hard and fast rules for the commencement of treatment because everyone is different. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening examination for every child by the age of 7. This does not imply that all children should receive treatment at this age but it does allow us to determine if they could benefit from early intervention. When your child visits us, we can decide whether they will benefit from an early orthodontic evaluation. Factors that can influence this include oral habits such as thumb or finger sucking as this can affect the development of their teeth and jaws.
In appropriate cases, early intervention can prevent the need for future treatment or will at least reduce the complexity of future treatment. Early treatment may reduce the need for extractions and can be used to create a fully functional smile and a nicer facial profile. Early treatment of a serious problem may achieve results that are not possible once the face and jaws have stopped growing, as an orthodontist can take advantage of a child’s growth spurts to gently guide the growth of their facial bones.
Looking after your braces
If you have fixed braces you will be able to eat most of the foods you were eating before, but more care will need to be taken not to damage your brace. There are some foods that have to be avoided diet during treatment. These foods include:
- Chewy sweets, like Mars bars or Starburst for example.
- Hard foods, like crusty bread and apples.
Also, please think twice before opening bottles with your teeth, biting pen tops or chewing your finger nails as these habits can also damage your brace, not to mention your teeth.
It is very important to ensure your oral hygiene is excellent as cleaning your teeth will be slightly trickier with a brace in place. Brushing your teeth after every snack and meal throughout the day will reduce the risk of decay and gum disease. In addition, take longer brushing your teeth in the morning and at night. These days there are lots of different tools that can help you to clean around brace brackets and wires more effectively and we can offer lots of practical advice and information on how to look after your teeth. If you do not look after your teeth during your treatment they can become permanently stained.
What to expect when having fixed braces fitted?
During your fitting appointment brackets and wires will be put in place in precise preplanned positions. You may find that for the first couple of days your teeth may feel tender to bite and your jaw aches; this is because of the pressure of the brace and over-the-counter pain relief should help. If the discomfort lasts longer than a few days, please make an appointment to come and see us as we will adjustment your brace to get it to fit more comfortably. You could also find that your brace may also rub against the inside of your lips or cheeks. If this is the case then use a small piece of orthodontic wax to cover up that part of the brace. You will be given some of this wax during your fitting appointment.
You will need follow-up appointments every six to eight weeks to have the wires changed or tightened. If you have had your brace tightened, you may fell a little discomfort later in the day. This is normal and you should find over-the-counter painkillers sufficient until your teeth and jaws adjust to the new positions.
Please be sure to still come and see us at six monthly intervals for your normal check-ups and cleanings as maintaining good oral health is even more important during your treatment.
How long does it take?
Everybody is different and you will be given a personalised treatment plan when you come to see us for your initial consultation. Most treatments take anywhere from 12 to 36 months but sometimes treatment may be relatively quick, particularly if the problems requiring correction are cosmetically oriented and only affect your front teeth. The total treatment time depends on the severity of the original malocclusion, the type of treatment carried out, and patient compliance is important. It is vital that you wear your brace as instructed as otherwise treatment could be prolonged.
After your treatment is complete
Your braces will be removed and your teeth cleaned and polished to remove any remaining cement. Your treatment is not over as the teeth need to be held in position while the surrounding gum and bone settles. This period is called retention and the appliances used to hold the teeth in place are called retainers. Your retainer may be fixed or removable. If you have a fixed retainer then it will be cemented onto the inside surfaces of your teeth so it will be invisible. Otherwise removable retainers may consist of clear plastic aligners that are extremely discreet. Depending on the type of retainers, impressions may to be taken in order for the retainers to be made at the dental laboratory. You will then return a week later to collect your retainers.
Long-term retention is normally recommended to ensure you can enjoy your beautifully straight smile for life.
Long-term retention is normally recommended to ensure your teeth remain straight for a lifetime.