Orthodontics is a specialised branch of dentistry primarily concerned with improving the appearance, position and function of crooked or abnormally arranged teeth. We provide a range of orthodontic treatments based on the highest quality of scientific evidence

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At what age should I have orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment is generally best carried out in young people. The ideal time may vary from 6-16 years, depending on the procedure, however most treatments are carried out in the early teenage years. Adults of any age can have orthodontic treatment too and the number of adults seeking treatment increases yearly. Age is less important than having the proper number of sound healthy teeth.

How is treatment carried out?

Orthodontic treatment can be done by many sorts of appliances, which most people know as ‘braces’. These may be of the fixed or removable type.

What is a removable appliance?

A removable appliance is an appliance that can be taken out to be cleaned, though it should be worn at all other times. It usually consists of a plastic plate which covers the roof of the mouth and has delicate wires and springs attached, which move the teeth using gentle pressure. Simple, limited treatment, such as the movement of one or two teeth, or some interceptive treatments may be carried out using removable appliances.

How do I care for my removable brace and teeth?

You  need to take extra care of your teeth and mouth. Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and use a  fluoride mouthwash. Clean your removable brace by brushing both sides of the plate with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Gently clean any wire parts – be careful, these may be delicate. You can keep the brace extra clean by soaking it in a retainer-cleaning solution once a week. These are fizzy tablets you can buy from a chemist. Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks. Avoid ‘snacking’ on foods or drinks containing sugars, and on fizzy drinks. Also, sticky and hard foods may damage the delicate parts of the brace. It is important to continue to have your teeth checked by your dentist while having orthodontic treatment. Here are two useful videos about removable braces: Video1         Video2

How long will it take?

The speed of treatment depends on a number of things and every person responds differently to treatment, however the difficulty of the case and the age of the patient determines treatment time. Other factors such as missed appointments and breakages will lengthen treatment time. Orthodontic treatment generally takes one and a half to two years in teenagers and two to three years in adults. Orthodontic appliances usually need adjusting every 4 to 6 weeks. Your orthodontist will tell you how often your appliance will need adjusting.

How successful will it be?

Success depends both on the skills of the orthodontist and your commitment and enthusiasm. Smooth treatment depends to a very large extent on your co-operation. It is important to keep your appointments, to look after the brace and carry out any instructions given by the orthodontist, particularly with regard to wearing of elastics, removable braces and retainers. Poor co-operation may prolong treatment or compromise the quality of the final result.

What is a retainer?

A retainer is usually a clear plastic gumshield, moulded closely to your teeth, however a removable appliance may also be used as a retainer. They are removable for cleaning and are generally worn full-time for some months after the end of treatment, followed by another period of part time wear. A fixed retainer is a wire glued to the back of the teeth. It is generally left there for a number of years, after which it is removed and a removable retainer provided.

Can orthodontics damage my teeth?

Your teeth can be damaged if they are not properly looked after during treatment. Appliances will not in themselves cause damage, but poor cleaning and too many sugary drinks and snacks can cause permanent damage. Brackets, wires and braces can trap food and cause more plaque than usual to build up. So the teeth and appliance need to be cleaned very thoroughly.

What is a retainer for?

Your teeth are kept in place by your gums and the bone around your teeth and are moulded by the pressure of your tongue on the inside and your lips and cheeks on the outside. Once moved, the bone and gums around the teeth need time to adjust to the new position of the teeth. The retainer helps keep them in place and prevents them from moving back. It is therefore important to wear your retainer as instructed. In the longer term, as your face matures and changes with time, the pressure from your lips and tongue alters slightly and this may affect the alignment of the teeth. Little is known about the way these pressures change so although you may have finished your period of retainer wear, we recommend that you keep wearing your retainer two to three nights a week in order to keep your teeth perfectly straight for as long as you want.

What happens when the teeth are in the right position?

When treatment is finished the teeth need to be held in position for a time. This period is called retention, and the appliances that hold the teeth in place are called retainers. The retainers hold newly straightened teeth in position while the surrounding gum and bone settles. The retainers can be removable or fixed depending on the original problem.

Must I wear my brace all the time?

Teeth respond best to continuous pressure as they move back to their original positions when this pressure is removed and other teeth may take up the space needed to straighten your teeth. If you do not wear your brace as instructed, treatment will certainly take longer and you may not be happy with the final result. Once your teeth are in place, the brace may be worn part time for a further period of time to act as a retainer, so that your teeth do not move back to their original positions. Your orthodontist will guide you.