What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a Greek word that literally means to straighten teeth.
Orthodontics is a unique branch of Dentistry specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of dental and dentofacial problems. The term malocclusion is often used by those who carry out orthodontic treatment. This relates to poorly aligned teeth, an incorrect bite or a mixture of the two. The correction of a malocclusion involves tooth movement, which is effected using appliances known as braces.
What are braces?
These are the appliances which carry out orthodontic treatment and fall into 2 main types: removable and fixed. Although removable for the purposes of cleaning, removable appliances (often called plates) are usually worn full-time both day and at night.
Example of a removable appliance
Fixed braces are often referred to as ‘train tracks’ since they resemble tram lines with a central wire running though the middle of the attachments (brackets). They are permanent for the duration of treatment with each bracket glued to the tooth surface on the outside.
More conventional fixed braces with aesthetic and metal brackets
We use Invu aesthetic brackets and are currently using tooth coloured wires and non-reflective wires to further improve the appearance. Gold plated brackets are also available. Damon braces are also used which sometimes obviates the need for extractions.
How do teeth move?
Tooth movement is achieved by applying gentle forces to the teeth. Removable appliances usually rely on springs to apply these forces. Fixed appliances rely on the active wires within the brackets which move the crowns and roots of the teeth.
Before fixed brace treatment
How long does it take?
I have completed simple treatment moving one tooth in 6 weeks, aligning the ‘smile’ teeth in 5 months though the average time span for both upper and lower fixed braces is about 12-15 months. There is individualism with some teeth moving quicker or slower than others. What we want is the right end result. Come in and we can discuss treatment possibilities to suit you.
Won’t the teeth move back again?
Yes, this can happen as the teeth are not set in concrete! Making sure the teeth remain straight is the most important part of treatment. Fixed or removable retainers (simple non-active braces) are fitted to maintain the new teeth positions and after some full-time wear reducing to nights only and in time reducing the number of nights, ideally to once a week for ever, so you know the teeth are still straight.
Example of a removable retainer
Is it worth straightening my teeth?
Getting that perfect smile is an important investment because you are investing in yourself, which can pay important dividends in terms of self-esteem, confidence, career and relationships. Cleaning and looking after aligned teeth is so much easier, after all teeth are for life! Book an appointment to find out exactly what would be involved and then decide.
Does it matter how old I am
Of course there is no age restriction – only that there is a healthy periodontium i.e there is bone present, the gums are in good condition and there is no active decay in the teeth. To date our oldest patient having treatment was in their mid 70’s. Treatment is carried out when permanent teeth are present sometimes with baby teeth to reduce the amount of treatment needed later or during the growth spurt. Most treatment is carried out when all the permanent teeth in front of the six year old molars have erupted.