If you are about to start a course of orthodontic treatment, or you are responsible for a young person who is, it is helpful to have a good idea of what lies ahead. In this guide, we will help you understand what happens right at the beginning, before the treatment actually gets underway. We’ll cover things like how your treatment plan is put together, the types of treatment you may be offered, how long that treatment may last and what you can expect to achieve.
Orthodontic treatment, usually involving the use of braces, is usually used to improve how your teeth look, and to help straighten any teeth that are over-crowded, crooked or protruding so that your overall oral health can be improved.
A good standard of oral hygiene is vital before any orthodontic treatment can get underway. This is because the treatment may increase the risk of gum problems and tooth decay.
It is important to bear in mind that orthodontic treatment is not a precise science and that results cannot be guaranteed. The good news though is that if you are prepared to follow all the guidance your specialist gives you, then you’ll have the best chance of seeing excellent results.
Right at the start, you’ll be asked to sign a consent form either for yourself or on behalf of your child. The form confirms that you understand the potential risks involved in the treatment. If you do not feel that you have sufficient information to confirm as such, or you do not properly understand what the treatment will involve, then be sure to ask further questions of your orthodontist.
There are a number of stages to work through so that a tailored treatment plan can be put together for you.
This is the part where the orthodontist sets out to learn as much about your current orthodontic condition as possible.
They will examine your teeth and look at your dental history before taking the records they need to formulate your treatment plan. These might include photographs and plaster-cast impressions of your teeth as well as x-rays of your teeth, jaw and head.
The specialist will talk to you about what you are seeking to achieve and will give you an honest opinion as to what is possible, as well as explaining any particular risks involved.
A treatment plan will then be tailored for you and you will have a chance to raise any questions so that you are totally clear on what is involved and the probability of success.
The treatment itself will vary depending on the overriding problem. It may be that you have prominent teeth that could be prone to damage, so the plan will look to reduce the chance of that happening. Some people need to have an over or under bite corrected so that the teeth meet evenly, making it more comfortable to eat and of course improving appearance. Others may need an overly crowded mouth rectified, or teeth straightened or aligned so that food-trap gaps are reduced.
Braces form part of most orthodontic treatments. These may be fixed or removable.
Fixed braces are suitable for both upper and lower teeth and, once in place, can only be removed by your orthodontist.
Removable aligners, also known as invisible or clear braces, are usually made with wire clips and springs and are designed to move specific teeth, more often than not the upper ones. Aligners are taken out for cleaning, but have to be worn the rest of the time, including whilst eating which is something you will soon become accustomed to.
There are numerous options when it comes to aligners. Many of them are almost invisible and they are designed to be replaced with a new set around every two weeks as your teeth start to move into their final position. For some treatments it may be possible, courtesy of a virtual 3D treatment plan, to see how your teeth will gradually change over the course of the treatment, and how they will look when it’s finished. Regular visits to the orthodontist, at the intervals they advise, will allow your teeth to be assessed throughout the treatment.
Ahead of your orthodontic treatment getting started, you’ll need to see your regular dentist for a check-up, and then follow up with any treatment they recommend so that your teeth and general oral health are in the best possible shape.
It is important that you continue to see your regular dentist throughout the course of your orthodontic treatment for regular six-monthly check-ups and routine care. This will help enhance your chances of achieving the best possible results from your orthodontic treatment plan, as well as keeping your teeth and mouth healthy.
As an average rule, orthodontic treatment can take anything between 6 and 24 months, but this will vary based on the complexity of the problem, the specific type of treatment selected and also according to the level of co-operation on your part. In other words you will need to:
At the end of the treatment, a retaining brace will usually need to be worn so that your teeth are kept in their new position and to allow your muscles and bones to settle. More often than not you’ll only need to wear this brace at night and for around a year, although your orthodontist will be the best person to advise on this. The retainer is important because movement may occur otherwise. You can go on wearing it indefinitely if you wish to prevent any future movement and to maintain the smile you’ve happily achieved.
Surbiton Smile Dental Centre offers a comprehensive range of family and cosmetic dentistry including a variety of orthodontic teeth straightening treatments. To discover how you could achieve the smile you’ve always longed for, book your free consultation with Dr Ruhparwar by calling 020 8339 9333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please get in touch if you are concerned about any aspect of your dental health. We will treat you fairly and honestly - and we look forward to being able to help you.