Questions & Answers

Read this before you have Orthodontics for you or your child. This information is to help consumers in the UK make an informed decision about the best way to have orthodontics and how to choose an orthodontist.

What is orthodontics?
Why choose a Specialist orthodontist?
At what age should orthodontics be done in children?
Is there a problem doing orthodontics in adults?
What types of orthodontic appliances are there?
Can orthodontics be nearly invisible/clear?
How long does orthodontics take?
Do teeth need to be extracted for orthodontic treatment?
What does orthodontics cost?
Will orthodontics last forever?
What about these new fast orthodontic systems?

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is essentially the science of straightening teeth. It is the first speciality of dentistry that is concerned with the study and treatment of improper bites, which may be a result of tooth irregularity, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both. Orthodontic treatment can focus on dental displacement only, or can deal with the control and modification of facial growth. In the latter case it is better defined as “dentofacial orthopaedics”.

Why choose a Specialist orthodontist?

Orthodontics is a speciality of dentistry with its own specialist register with the General Dental Council. Many general practitioners who are not on the specialist register carry out orthodontic treatment but at 92 Dental  we have a Consultant Orthodontist who has done 3 years postgraduate training to be a specialist orthodontist and then an additional 2 years to be a Hospital Consultant. Therefore the whole spectrum of cases can be dealt with, from very simple to the most complex.

At what age should orthodontics be done in children?

Children can be seen for an initial assessment from about nine years of age or earlier on the recommendation of your dentist. It is never too late to see an orthodontist, but in some cases the treatment can be simpler if started earlier.

 

Is there a problem doing orthodontics in adults?

One can have orthodontics at any age. More and more people of all ages are having orthodontic treatment to improve the appearance of their teeth using braces. In adults however the orthodontist will carefully examine the mouth and may have to modify the treatment if there is gum disease for example or recommend additional treatment if there are teeth that are diseased. With adults the best result is often achieved by finishing off with teeth whitening.

 

What types of orthodontic appliances are there?

There are several systems on the market that have been brought out by different companies.
1. Traditional fixed braces “train tracks” – these are very efficient and cost effective

Traditional train track braces

Traditional train track braces

2. Traditional fixed braces with tooth coloured brackets and in some cases tooth coloured wires – these are efficient but cost a little more.

Traditional train track braces with clear brackets

Traditional train track braces with clear brackets

3. Clear braces such as Invisalign –photographs and casts of the teeth are scanned and clever software straightens the teeth in small increments. For each increment a clear aligner (plastic like cover) is made. The whole series is then sent back to the orthodontist who then delivers them to the patient. The patient wears an aligner for an average of about two weeks before changing to a new aligner. The orthodontist manages the process. This costs a bit more than the two options above.

Invisilign

Invisalign

4. Lingual orthodontics such as Incognito – braces on the inside of the teeth. These are totally invisible but do take a bit of getting used to. This costs more than the three options above.

Lingual braces

Lingual braces

5. Six Month Smiles – this is a system that is designed to move only the front teeth and the time taken averages six months. This is only suitable for adults and is not suitable for more complex cases but does cost less than the other systems. Discuss your situation with your orthodontist. Many general dental practitioners use this system after attending weekend courses and seldom have the knowledge to correct the teeth if things do not go according to plan.

Six Month Smiles

Six Month Smiles

6. Inman Aligners – this system is designed to move only the front teeth and is a removable brace, so good compliance is essential. This is not suitable for more complex cases but does cost less than the other systems. Discuss your situation with your orthodontist. Many general dental practitioners use this system after attending weekend courses and seldom have the knowledge to correct the teeth if things do not go according to plan.

 

Inman aligner in place

Inman aligner in place

Can orthodontics be nearly invisible/clear?

Yes, but generally the more invisible they are the more the system costs. However some of the more invisible systems do have their limitations and in more complex cases conventional systems are best. In order of the least noticeable to the most noticeable:
1. Lingual orthodontics such as Incognito
2. Clear braces such as Invisalign
3. Traditional fixed braces with tooth coloured brackets and Six Month Smiles
4. Traditional fixed braces “train tracks” and Inman Aligners

 

How long does orthodontics take?

There are two factors that decide the length of time the treatment takes. First is the complexity of the individual case and second is the end goal. This can range from just shuffling around the front teeth to correcting a severely abnormal malocclusion so it can be from 3 months to 2.5 years. Consult with the orthodontist for an estimate.

 

Do teeth need to be extracted for orthodontic treatment?

These days we go out of our way not to extract teeth. However there are certain situations where extraction of teeth will get a better and more stable result.

 

What does orthodontics cost?

Again it depends on the complexity of the individual case and the end goal and the system used. This can range from £1950 to £6500.

Will orthodontics last forever?

Only if the result you are happy with is maintained. As a general rule nature puts teeth in a certain position in your mouth which is a balance between the shape of your jaw, the size of your teeth and forces from your cheek and lips and your tongue. So with time the teeth will want to migrate back to their original position. This is why we prescribe retainers to hold the teeth in their new more aesthetic and cleansable position. These retainers can be fixed or removable or both and should become a lifelong habit.

What about these new fast orthodontic systems?

There are more and more systems coming on the market that promises faster results. These systems have either not been around long enough to assess the potential side effect of moving teeth quickly (like root resorption) or in reality only the front teeth are moved, so the system is not suitable for more complex situations.