What is orthodontics?

An orthodontist is a specialist who has completed a specialised training program after dental graduation, where they learn the required skills to manage tooth movement and guide facial development. The advanced training program lasts for 2 – 3 years and is full time.

What are some possible benefits of orthodontics?

An enhanced more attractive smile

Reduced anxiety and feeling self conscious

Better functionality of the teeth

Greater self-confidence

Increased ability to clean and care for teeth

Improved distribution of force and bite, with more even wear patterns of the teeth

Improved long term health of teeth and gums

Guide permanent teeth into more favourable positions

Reduced risk of injury to protruded front teeth

Aid in optimizing other dental treatment

What are some signs that braces may be needed?

Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth, or are bucked

Upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deep bite)

Upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower front teeth (underbite)

The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)

Crowded or overlapped teeth The center of the upper and lower teeth do not line up

Finger or thumb sucking habits which continue after six or seven years old

Difficulty chewing

Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively

The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together

Spaces between the teeth

At what age should orthodontic treatment occur?

Orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before the growth of the upper and lower jaws has slowed. Earlier treatment may mean that a patient can avoid surgery and more serious complications. It is recommended that every child first visit an orthodontist by age 7 or earlier if a problem is detected by parents, the family dentist or the child’s physician.

What is the difference between Phase I and Phase II treatment?

Phase I, also known as the early interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment (i.e. expander or partial braces) before all of the permanent teeth have erupted or come through. Such treatment can take place between the ages of 6 and 10. This treatment is sometimes advised to make more space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites, overbites, underbites, or other harmful oral habits. Phase II treatment is also referred to as comprehensive treatment, because it involves the use of full braces when all of the permanent teeth have erupted or come through, usually between the ages of 11 and 13.

Would an adult patient benefit from orthodontics?

Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age, and adults are increasingly choosing orthodontic treatment, including Invisalign and invisible orthodontic treatment methods. Everyone wants a beautiful healthy smile and greater confidence. Around 25% orthodontic patients are adults.

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Braces apply steady gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions. The brackets that are placed on your teeth and the archwire that connects them are the main components of the appliance. When the archwire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies pressure to move your teeth to their new desired positions.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, but the average time is from 1 – 2 years. Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth and severity of the correction necessary. The duration of treatment is also dependent upon patient compliance and care. Maintaining a good oral hygiene and attending set appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.

Are braces painful?

The placement of bands and brackets on your teeth does not actually hurt. Once your braces are placed and connected with the archwires you may feel some soreness of your teeth for around 1 – 4 days. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth, you may feel your voice sounds different at first, and your mouth may produce more saliva before quickly returning back to normal.

Will braces interfere with playing sports?

Contact sports such as rugby are better avoided. It is recommended, however, that patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouth guard when participating in any sporting activity. Mouth guards are inexpensive, comfortable, and come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?

No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. In addition, brace covers can be provided to prevent discomfort.

Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?

Yes, you should continue to see your general dentist every 6 months for cleanings, or as advised and dental checkups as deemed necessary by your dentist and orthodontist.

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