Orthodontics is a specialist aspect of dentistry that involves the treatment of dental irregularities.
Before Orthodontic Treatment
It is concerned with the assessment and treatment of misaligned teeth and facial irregularities. Orthodontists are specialists who have spent additional years in training.
The correction of irregular tooth positions and jaw patterns is carried out mainly by the use of braces. Crowding or shortage of space may be relieved by removing some teeth to make space for the rest. Teeth are very hard and as the bone is softer and continues to be generated all the time it is possible to move teeth through the bone so that spaces can be closed at any age.
Braces are used to apply pressure to the teeth and guide them into their correct position.
Treatment on average takes about 18 months to 2 years to complete in the permanent dentition but the early simple treatments can take in the region of 3 months to a year.
After Orthodontic Treatment
Different types of appliances are used to correct teeth. Appliances fall into 3 groups:
Fixed braces are the most common type of appliance. Attachments (brackets) are bonded to the tooth surface and are linked by wires to produce pressure to move the teeth to carefully specified positions.
Fixed braces are designed not to be removed until the end of the treatment. As the teeth move towards the correct position the wires are changed to improve control.
Metal brackets – are made from stainless steel.
Clear Brackets – are made from plastic or ceramic material and are less visible. They are harder to use and more expensive to produce. These are the choice of those concerned about the look of braces and are available privately for adults and some children’s treatment.
Elastics – some patients need to wear elastic bands between the upper and lower fixed braces to improve the bite and the appearance of teeth. They are worn 24 hours a day but are removed for brushing the teeth.
Removable Braces – are made of plastic (acrylic or perspex) with wire clips and springs. A removable brace is clipped to the teeth so that it gets support from the teeth and also from the roof of the mouth. The wire clips are individually made to secure the brace and move the teeth.
Clear Braces – Invisalign
This treatment involves using a set of transparent, almost invisible removable aligners. You wear each one for approximately 2 weeks to move your teeth gradually until you have achieved the result of the desire. The duration and cost of the treatment depend on the complexity of the case. This treatment is only available privately.
Retention and Retainers
Removable retainers – After teeth have been straightened it is necessary to maintain support to allow them to settle. This is achieved with either a set of removable clear plastic retainers (which look like a thin gum shield) or plastic and wire retainers.
These retainers are held in place behind the front teeth. A wire is fixed to the inside surface of the front teeth.