Orthodontic treatment is treatment that is performed to correct misaligned teeth and bite. Orthodontics, or braces and clear aligners, can be used to straighten crooked teeth and correct misaligned bites. 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 removable (clear aligners). 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.
The first appointment will be a direct consultation with you to discuss what you want to achieve from the use of braces. The orthodontics trained dentist will perform a regular clean and oral health examination, take moulds, photographs and x-rays of your teeth.
The second appointment will allow the specialist 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.
Following this, the braces will be installed and the treatment process begins from this day.
Braces are normally removed between 18 to 24 months, although the final duration of time depends on each particular case. The dentist will provide you with an more specific time frame 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 or aligners will be fitted either into your mouth or directly onto your teeth, depending on the method that has been chosen.
You will be required to visit your dentist every 4-8 weeks to make adjustments and for the progress of your treatment to be assessed. It is not uncommon for braces to cause discomfort or tenderness, either after the initial fitting or any additional tightening.
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 dentist will instruct you on the particular brushing techniques that will help clean your teeth while you have braces.
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 and prevent any movement.