When we use the term orthodontics, we are referring to the process of straightening the line of your teeth, in order to improve the appearance of your smile and ensure that your bite is normal. Incorrect bites, in some cases, can lead to severe dental complications further down the track, and can also cause pain in the jaw or multiple headaches. Straightening your teeth has also been shown to minimise the onset of tooth decay and gum disease, as straight teeth are much easier to clean.
Orthodontic braces are available either as a fixed application or can be completely removeable. Fixed braces consist of brackets that are cemented to your teeth, with flexible wires holding the brackets in place. These wires will exert the necessary pressure required to guide your teeth into their correct position over a certain period of time. Removable braces are a system of springs and wires, which do likewise. However, removable braces are held together using a mouth plate, and are not cemented onto your teeth.
Upon appointment with your dentist to see if braces are best suited for you, your dentist will refer you to one of our expert orthodontists. The first appointment will be a direct consultation with you to discuss what you want to achieve from the use of braces. Your orthodontist will perform a regular clean and oral health examination, take moulds of your teeth, and take an x-ray to avoid future complications.
The second appointment will allow your orthodontist to discuss with you strategies going forward, ensuring that you understand all of the options available to you. It is not uncommon for existing teeth to have to be removed, allowing for space for the remaining teeth to move freely into the desired position. Your regular dental practitioner will perform any required extractions.
Braces are normally removed between 18 to 24 months, although the final duration of time depends on each particular case. Your orthodontist will provide you with an accurate time upon the first appointment made with them. If the braces are broken during this period, it could possibly add time to the duration of the procedure.
The brace fitting requires the placement of plastic bands, or separators, to hold your molar teeth in position, in order to ensure that there is enough space for your teeth to freely move. After this process has been completed, your braces will be fitted either into your mouth or directly onto your teeth, depending on the brace that has been chosen.
It is recommended that you visit your orthodontist every six to eight weeks, allowing them to monitor the process and replace any wires or bands when necessary. It is not uncommon for braces to cause discomfort or tenderness, either after the initial fitting or any additional tightening. It is also advisable that you check in with your regular dentist as often as possible, to ensure that your teeth and gum health is not compromised by the braces themselves.
A common misconception revolving around braces is that, once fitted, you cannot eat the majority of foods that you enjoyed previously. Although there is an element of truth to this – it is recommended that you refrain from eating overly syrupy foods, apples, chewy snacks or crusty bread – you can freely enjoy everything else, although more care will be required when eating and chewing.
Your oral hygiene, during this period, must be perfect, as cleaning your teeth with braces in place can prove to be quite difficult. Brushing your teeth after every meal is the easiest way to maintain this high standard of hygiene required, and your brushing duration should be longer than normal to ensure that your teeth and gums have been thoroughly cleaned. Your orthodontist will inform you on any particular brushing techniques that will help clean your teeth with braces on.
After the treatment period, your braces will be removed and teeth thoroughly cleaned and polished, to ensure that there is no left over adhesive. You will then be fitted with a retainer, which will help to keep the teeth in place after the bracing period.