What You Should Know About Teeth Straightening
Orthodontics or tooth straightening treatments have come a long way since the early days of dentistry. Technology is better, treatments are less invasive, perceptions have changed and the overall experience is much more pleasant.
Surprisingly it’s not just for kids either. More and more adults are getting orthodontic treatment because they understand the importance of a healthy smile.
All that being said, we know there will be some hesitation about getting orthodontic treatment. That’s why we’re always ready to address your concerns and clear up any misconceptions you may have.
To get you acquainted with the procedure, here is a synopsis of the things you can expect at our Practices once you’ve made the decision to improve your smile.
What Will Happen On My First Visit?
When we first meet, you’ll need to fill out a medical and dental questionnaire. The visit will then consist of a preliminary exam to evaluate your situation and, if you don’t already have one some x-rays.
When the examination is done, we will share the assessment with you and let you know if you or your child will require treatment. If yes, we’ll explain the type of orthodontic appliance that we think will do the best job for your diagnosis, fixed braces , clear removable braces or functional appliances
Next, we’ll tell you what you can expect if you follow through with the treatment including the approximate length of time you’ll need, and the cost/payment options involved. Should you decide orthodontic treatment is not right for you, we’ll also discuss any potential dental health problems you might face in the future.
The first consultation normally lasts 30 minutes. Our goal during this meeting is to give you a fair, objective assessment of your dental health, answer all your questions, and alleviate any fears you may have.
Do I Need To Bring Anything?
We ask that you bring any reports or x-rays that were given to you by the referring dentist or which might be held by your current dentist. If you are wearing an appliance, night guard or retainer, we’ll need to see that as well.
When all is said and done, we want this to be an enjoyable experience that leads to a beautiful, healthy smile you will be proud of for the rest of your life. You need not change your existing dentist if you are coming to us for orthodontic treatment.
Anatomy of a smile
Many people associate orthodontics with a treatment that is solely for the aesthetic alignment of teeth to create beautiful smiles.
However, the goal of orthodontic treatment has always been to improve dental and jaw function as well as enhance dento-facial aesthetics.
Functionally, a malocclusion (a “bad bite”) can contribute to jaw joint problems, dental wear, teeth grinding, periodontal problems (gums and jaw bones) and facial neuromuscular problems. There is almost always a health benefit that comes along with the creation of a beautiful smile once your bite is corrected.
How To Choose The Right Orthodontist
Traditionally in the UK, most orthodontic treatments have been carried out by specialists working for the NHS. Budget restraints, waiting lists, prioritisation of treatment of only the worst cases and the lack of specialists approved by the NHS means that we are seeing more and more young patients but after really waiting too long. They go past the ideal age for orthodontics to be carried out: that is if they actually ever receive the treatment needed. After a certain age entitlement for NHS funded orthodontics expires anyway.
Please make all our lives easier: make an arrangement to see Dr Boulcott at his practice as soon as you feel there may be a problem that requires correcting. Earlier intervention often means easier treatments.
The advantages of having orthodontics carried out privately by Dr Boulcott are many fold:
- We can start orthodontics at the ideal age for the young patient or at any age for our adult patients wishing a great smile.
- We can use modern techniques that are quicker, more comfortable, more predictable and less prone to relapse.
- We rarely require the need to remove healthy teeth to create space!
- We can follow up our treatment throughout life allowing us to guarantee our treatment outcomes.
- You or your child will be treated locally, in a great environment by friendly and caring staff.
During and post treatment
The successful outcome of any orthodontic treatment requires a team effort between the patient, orthodontist and the orthodontic team. The patient’s role is critical and his/her cooperation influences the duration of treatment, the outcome and stability of the teeth after the treatment has ended. Here is what a patient should expect in terms of involvement:
The patient is asked to keep the braces very clean by brushing and flossing. This will avoid problems like gingival inflammation or tooth decay.
He / she may also be asked to wear night time elastics hooked on to the braces between the upper and lower teeth. Without adequate elastic wear, if required, the treatment will take longer and the results obtained will likely not be ideal as the elastics play a major role in correcting the bite.
With braces, patients are also asked to be careful with foods they eat in order to avoid debonding braces in between appointments. When a brace is debonded, the tooth that is no longer attached to the brace and wire and is free to move on its own. This will increase treatment time.
Clear Braces ( Invisalign )
During active treatment with clear braces or retainers (appliances which are removable), patients are required to be very compliant in wearing them full time. Teeth move best when there is a constant force on them, which is why braces (that are not removable by the patient) work so well. It is only with full time wear that we will get the desired movements and bite correction. Patients need to make sure they carefully store their aligners or retainers in the retainer box they are provided with, when they eat or brush their teeth, to prevent it from getting lost or broken.
In any active treatment, it is also important that any regularly scheduled appointments are maintained. This is the only way to ensure that treatment is accomplished within the estimated time.
Post Treatment and Retainers
Once the orthodontic treatment is completed and you are happy with your beautiful smile and great bite, we need to maintain the results. This is accomplished with retainers. A patient may be given a removable passive retainer at the end of treatment to maintain tooth alignment or a permanent retainer which is a wire bonded to the inside of the upper and/or lower six anterior teeth.
The removable retainer needs to be worn nocturnally at a decreasing amount of time: as little as 15 minutes per day in some cases. Retainers should be kept clean and reviewed at check-ups by your dentist to ensure that it is retentive and fits properly. Retention is for life. Teeth can move your whole life, regardless of age. However, when you have a very good bite, the tendency for teeth to move diminishes and some systems can reduce the amount of potential relapse. If you want to ensure that the alignment is as ideal as possible we suggest trying on your retainers every day (if they are the removable type).
This will help you determine if they fit and ensure that your teeth are still nicely aligned. If the retainers feel a little tight, you may need to wear them for a while to maintain alignment.
Written By Dr Mark Boulcott