What is orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontic treatment is a way of straightening or moving teeth, to improve the appearance of the teeth and how they work. It can also help to look after the long-term health of the teeth, gums and jaw joints, by spreading the biting pressure over all the teeth.
Why should I have orthodontic treatment?
Many people have crowded or crooked teeth. Orthodontic treatment will straighten the teeth or move them into a better position. This can not only improve their appearance but also the way the teeth bite together, while also making them easier to clean. On the other hand, unsightly spaces between the teeth may be closed. In some patients the upper front teeth can stick out and look unsightly. These ‘prominent’ teeth are more likely to be damaged, but orthodontic treatment can move them back into line. In others, the way the upper and lower jaws meet can cause teeth to look unsightly and lead to an incorrect bite. Orthodontic treatment may be able to correct both. Sometimes teeth do not erupt and remain lodged in the gum. Orthodontics may be able to encourage these teeth to erupt into the correct position. When the teeth don’t meet correctly, this may put strain on the muscles of the jaw or may damage the teeth. Orthodontic treatment may be carried out to correct the position of the teeth so the front teeth overlap properly and the back teeth mesh evenly. Orthodontic treatment may also improve the position of teeth prior to fitting implants, bridges or dentures, enhancing the final result. If surgery is planned to alter the position of one or both jaws, orthodontic treatment is usually necessary to prepare the teeth for the procedure to be carried out successfully.
Who carries out orthodontics?
Orthodontic treatment is complicated and is best carried out by a trained orthodontic specialist. Orthodontics is a very specific area of expertise and only those registered on the Orthodontic Specialist List with the Medical Council can call themselves a specialist orthodontist. However there are simple procedures which may be carried out by any dentist and sometimes the dentist may carry out orthodontic treatment after having sought the advice of a specialist.
What does it involve?
The first thing is to have a full examination. This will usually involve looking at your teeth and possibly taking x-rays and making plaster models of your teeth. Your orthodontist will then discuss what treatment is possible. Once you are sure you want to go ahead, the treatment can begin.
Will I need to have teeth taken out?
You may not have enough room for all your permanent teeth and so it may be necessary to take out some teeth to make space. The orthodontist will tell you whether this is the case. Sometimes space can be created using other forms of treatment.
What is interceptive orthodontic treatment?
This refers to a short course of treatment carried out before the permanent teeth have all come through and may involve extraction of primary teeth and/or wearing an orthodontic appliance. Some problems are amenable to early treatment and some may be improved, making treatment easier once the permanent teeth are all through.
Will it hurt?
All appliances may feel strange to begin with and can cause discomfort. Teeth are usually uncomfortable immediately after fitting the brace and after adjustment, but this should settle after a day or two. Simple over-the counter painkillers, such as those taken for a headache, should be enough to deal with this. If the problem doesn’t go away, the orthodontist may be able to carry out adjustments to help. After fitting a fixed appliance, the lips may be sore until they get used to the brace. This generally goes away on its own after a day or two, as the lining of your mouth toughens up, however we can provide a special wax to cover the worst bits and provide relief. This is a good video to watch as it explains the commoner sort of orthodontic problems.
How do I go about getting orthodontic treatment?
The first thing to do is to go along to your own dentist and get his or her advice. Your dentist will know whether you need treatment and make the necessary arrangements.