Orthodontics refers to the practice of straightening teeth and at Oatlands Dental Lounge we can deal with every step of the journey.
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a special branch of dentistry that focuses on straightening and aligning teeth so they are in the correct position. As well as improving the appearance of the teeth, this is important for ensuring long term jaw and gum health as the ‘bite’ is aligned and there is an even amount of pressure spread along the jaw line, each tooth is in the ideal position to perform its function and the teeth and gums can be cleaned properly.
Previously, orthodontic braces were associated with children but as dentistry has evolved there are now suitable treatments for people of all ages so you’re never too old to straighten your smile. We are experts in orthodontic dentistry and advise the appropriate treatment for your age, condition of your teeth and personal preference whether you are five or fifty five. Thanks to progressions in orthodontics, there is a wide range of treatment options available including fixed and removable braces and a combination of the two. There are even very discreet ‘invisible’ options so you don’t have to worry about your braces being noticeable. These orthodontic innovations also negate the need for removing teeth to “allow space” like previous methods.
Our orthodontic specialists create broad, natural looking smiles by widening the palate and broadening the jaw and these techniques are at their most effective when the patient is young and their jaw and palate are still growing and developing.
Depending on the degree of movement required and the appliances being used, orthodontic treatments can take anywhere between 6 weeks and 3 years.
When might orthodontic treatment become necessary?
There are various situations in which orthodontic treatment may become necessary including:
· A misaligned bite caused by incorrect development of the upper or lower jaw. When there is an over or under bite this means that the teeth do not meet when the jaws are closed.
· The teeth being too close together or even impacted when the adult teeth have come through but there is insufficient jaw space.
· Thumb sucking or dummy use forcing teeth to protrude forwards.
· Teeth being pushed out of place by the tongue when a person continually breathes through their mouth. Over a long period of time this can affect the growth of the jaws and lead to more complicated issues.
· Teeth moving out of position following the accidental loss of one or more teeth.
· Teeth moving due to the effects of aging leading to crookedness and crowding. This is more common in the lower front teeth.
Types of orthodontic appliances
The word ‘appliances’ refers to orthodontic braces and aligners. These reposition the teeth and we assess your individual needs to determine what the best method is for you.
Braces- These can be fixed or removable and usually consist of small plastic plates that support a custom-made arrangement of wires or brackets bonded to the relevant teeth and fitted with a wire. These both work by applying pressure to the teeth and changing their position over time. The wires may need to be adjusted as the teeth move.
Aligners- These are custom-made trays or plastic moulds that fit closely over your teeth and gradually move them into a new position. Depending on your individual circumstances you may need a series of aligners to encourage the progression.
Braces and aligners can be used alone or together with “functional appliances” to widen or expand the jaws and palate. You may also have elastic bands to move teeth either forwards or backwards.
Often orthodontic treatments are most effective in children and teenagers as their jaws and faces are still developing however modern advances in technology has made treatment times shorter and braces more discreet so more adults are choosing to have braces and aligners for cosmetic reasons.
Self-ligating braces are made from the same materials as traditional braces however each bracket has a built-in clip to hold the wire into place instead of metal or elastic ties to hold the archwire in the brackets. This makes it easier to fit and adjust the braces and cleaning is easier and there is less build up of plaque and food debris. It also means that the brackets are typically smaller and neater so some people choose them for aesthetic reasons.
The clip can hold the wire more or less tightly depending on what is required. When it is tighter, i.e. ‘active’, additional forces are placed on the teeth and help to move them. If the wires are held loosely and are able to slide, the system is known as ‘passive’ and there is less friction and force and thus treatment times are reduced.
Modern orthodontics often uses nickel-titanium instead of stainless steel to make archwires. The archwires are created in a perfect arch shape and is then chilled so it is flexible enough to be easily threaded through fixed brackets. Nickel-titanium is heat sensitive so, once in place, the archwire warms to body temperature and tries to return to its original place, in turn placing a constant light force on the teeth.
The Damon system of braces is one of the leading appliances available and is used internationally. This system is focused on training the teeth into position without removing any and looks at the effect of the teeth on the entire face.
It comprises of temperature-sensitive copper, nickel and titanium alloy archways and self-ligating brackets so the teeth can move quickly and more freely without any friction. At the start of the treatment very light wires are used and then, as the teeth move into place, are replaced with successively larger wires. The light force applied by the system encourages the jaw to grow new bone to support the teeth’s new position.
Aesthetic braces correct minor misalignments of the upper and lower front teeth and are both discreet and fast-working.
These fall into three main categories- lingual braces, aligner type appliances, such as Invisalign, and tooth-coloured Damon braces, i.e. the Six Month Smile appliance.
Lingual braces: These consist of metalwork on the inner surface of teeth so, unlike conventional braces where they are on the visible front surface, they cannot be seen. They do not interfere with your speech and are specially designed to be small, light and comfortable.
Invisible braces: These give you straighter teeth without having to wear traditional braces so is an option often chosen by adults who do not wish to wear unsightly train tracks. The Invisalign system, also known as invisible orthodontics, is a clear, removable appliance that straightens and aligns the teeth. It is based on highly advanced orthodontic technology and, depending on each patient’s individual case, can give a much shorter treatment time.
How do I look after my teeth and braces?
It is very important to maintain good oral hygiene, even more so when wearing braces as the wires, bands, plates and various parts can trap plaque and food debris leading to damaged tooth enamel, gum disease and stained teeth. We will advise you on the best way to clean your braces and the other attachments and show you how to brush your teeth correctly and thoroughly. You should brush your teeth between meals as well as flossing and using specially designed brushes. Some habits such as biting your nails and chewing on pens can run the risk of damaging your braces so you should try to kerb these.
You can eat as normal but certain foods should be avoided to protect the teeth and braces against damage such as sticky foods (i.e. chewing gum, toffee, etc.), very hard foods such as nuts, sweet snacks and drinks, fizzy drinks and concentrated fruit juices. Foods that are healthy but crunchy such as raw carrot and apples should be cut into small pieces.
Costs of Orthodontic Treatment.
The cost of orthodontic treatment can vary depending on the nature of the work needed, the timescale required and the expected result. Unlike some other practices, we also offer early orthodontic treatment options for children.
We give you a full written estimate of the cost and the treatment plan after your consultation and before commencing the treatment. We also can offer some payment options.
Are the results permanent?
After the treatment period the teeth need to be held in their new position for some time so you will be fitted with a retainer to hold them whilst the surrounding gum and bone settles. Retainers can be fixed or removable and worn all the time or only at night depending on the original problem.
Regardless of what type of treatment has taken place, proper attention should be paid to retention at the end of treatment as teeth can move over time. Even after the retention period it is normal for minor tooth movements to occur throughout life. Orthodontic treatment is not guaranteed to give completely permanent results and so retainers may need to be worn permanently in some cases.
Orthodontic treatment has many benefits as well as just giving a beautiful, straight smile; it boosts your confidence and encourages you to smile more, there are fewer gaps for plaque to build up in and there is less risk to the bite-surface of the teeth from a misaligned bite. Orthodontic treatment is a long-term investment in the health of your teeth and can really be life changing.