What is “orthodontics”?

The word orthodontics comes from the Greek prefix “ortho” meaning straight, upright, right, or correct and the Greek suffix “-odont“ meaning tooth.

Orthodontics is the dental specialty that studies, diagnoses and treats the anomalies in form, position, relation and function of the dentomaxillofacial structures (teeth, jaws, temporomandibular joint).

Orthodontist vs Dentist?

A dentist must study for five years to obtain a Bachelor in Dental Surgery. They help with your general dentistry and carry out routine exams, fillings, root canal treatment, extractions but will often refer you to an orthodontist when there are anomalies related to the form, position, relation and/or function of your teeth, jaws or temporomandibular joint.

An orthodontist is a dentist that has completed an additional three years of education to specialise in orthodontics and has obtained a Master of Science in Orthodontics (MOrth). In the UK, all orthodontists must be registered in the specialist list of the General Dental Council as a warranty for patients that the training they have received meets the required standards to ensure the very best orthodontic care.

Why should I have orthodontic treatment?

For cosmetic reasons:

A smile can change your confidence, your outlook and your life as a whole. In a recent survey, 72% of the respondents agreed that smiles are a big part of our identity, affecting how we feel about ourselves and how others perceive us. Conversely, nearly half said that crooked teeth leave a negative first impression. Orthodontic treatment will move the teeth into a better position, improving their appearance and giving you a beautiful, straight smile. Straight teeth are also easier to clean.

For functional reasons:

When the upper and lower jaws don’t meet properly, the bite is usually affected. Although you might not experience any problems during chewing, having a bad bite causes a number of problems in the long term that can affect the teeth as well as the gums and bone that provide support and protection to the teeth. Your chewing function will not be as efficient, which can be a cause of stomach problems. Problems with the bite can put a strain on the jaw muscles, affecting their function when opening and closing. This can cause problems in the joint, neck and back and lead to headaches. People with front teeth sticking out are more likely to suffer trauma to these teeth while playing sports or if they have an accident.

When can I have orthodontic treatment?

It’s never too late (or too early) to embark on orthodontic treatment. Our experienced orthodontists assess each case individually and work as a team to devise the most efficient treatment plan based on patient needs and personal requirements.

The only prerequisite to having orthodontic treatment is that your teeth and gums are healthy.

Do children have to pay for orthodontic treatment?

In the UK, the NHS only provides free orthodontic care for under 18s with an IOTN (Index for Orthodontic Treatment Need) of 4 or 5 and in some occasions with IOTN 3.

In all other cases treatment is private. Please speak to us to find out more about our special rates for these patients.

What is the process to having orthodontic treatment?

1st - Dentist check up:

Your regular dentist will have to confirm that your oral health is good enough to have orthodontic treatment. Dental and/or periodontal treatment might be required prior to moving forward with orthodontic treatment.

2nd – Orthodontist appointment:

At the initial appointment with your Precision orthodontist a full case assessment will be carried out. This will include an intraoral/ extraoral examination, radiographs, study models and photos. This exacting, in-depth approach allows us to fully study your case before establishing the most appropriate treatment plan that meets your needs and requirements.

3rd – Orthodontic treatment begins:

Once you have received and agreed on a treatment plan that suits your needs the first appointment is booked to begin with treatment.

Review appointments:

Once treatment begins, you will be instructed by your orthodontist to make review appointments, usually every 4 to 8 weeks so adjustments can be carried out.

What is the cost of orthodontic treatment?

The cost of orthodontic treatment ranges from approximately £3000 to £11,500, depending on the type of problem, the type of brace and the estimated treatment time.

Your orthodontist will give you a clear idea of timescales and costs during your assessment and can also provide more information about our interest free finance options to make your journey to a straighter smile more affordable.

How long is orthodontic treatment?

There are many factors that can affect treatment times. Our Precise orthodontists advise that mild cases will last between 6-12 months and moderate cases between 12-18 months.

Severe cases are likely to require between 18-24 months of treatment. In special cases, treatment can last over 24 months.

Does orthodontic treatment hurt?

Orthodontic treatment doesn’t hurt but it can be somewhat uncomfortable from time to time. Fitting the braces is not painful at all but there is a period of adjustment which can take a couple of weeks after braces are first applied.

The teeth are able to move during orthodontic treatment thanks to an inflammatory reaction that takes place in the periodontal ligaments. In first weeks after starting orthodontic treatment the teeth are tender and chewing becomes uncomfortable. After each review appointment where the arch wires are changed, it’s normal to feel some pressure that can cause discomfort on the teeth for 24-48 hours. Pain can always be managed with over the counter pain relief medication such as Paracetamol.

What should I eat during orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontist treatment will affect what you eat less than the way you should eat it. We recommend you follow a soft diet for the first few weeks as your teeth will feel tender when they encounter pressure. Chewing will gradually become easier and more comfortable.

Patients with removable appliances must remove them to eat in almost all cases. However, patients wearing braces should be careful not to damage the braces. Hard and sticky foods could make brackets come loose. Certain foods like apples and raw carrots should be cut into pieces to avoid damaging your braces.

Will my speech be affected?

Traditional braces fitted in the outside surface of the teeth do not affect your speech.

However, there are some types of braces like Invisalign, removable appliances, or lingual braces which cover the inside surface of the teeth. These may affect your speech for a couple of weeks until the tongue adapts to a new position to pronounce certain words.

What’s the ideal age for a first orthodontist visit?

The ideal time to have an initial orthodontic assessment is between the ages of 7 and 11. At this point, the deciduous (baby) teeth are changing for adult teeth and growth of the jaws is also taking place.

The earlier your orthodontist is able to identify a problem or potential problem, the better. Some patients will really benefit from an early treatment stage in order to prevent future problems.

Do all teenagers need to wear braces?

Not everyone needs to use traditional braces to correct the position of the teeth.

A number of more discrete systems, like Invisalign, are available. Your child’s orthodontist will be able to advise on the most appropriate course of treatment.

Should I still visit my dentist while having orthodontic treatment?

Absolutely! Aim to have a routine check-up appointment with your dentist every 6 months, or as instructed, in order to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Your orthodontist will be focusing on the orthodontic treatment. However, if any obvious problems are found you will be referred to your dentist for assessment and treatment.

How should I clean the teeth during orthodontic treatment?

During orthodontic treatment, one of the most important things you can do is keep your teeth very clean. You should carry a brush and toothpaste at all times. Cleaning your teeth after each meal will prevent decay, white marks on the enamel, tooth erosion, bad breath, staining, swelling and bleeding of the gums and it will also help to keep removable appliances clean.

Patients using removable appliances must remove them to clean the teeth and to eat. The teeth must be very clean before your removable appliance is put back in. Patients with braces must follow our instructions which you may find in the section How to clean my teeth with braces?. Your Precision orthodontist will also explain how to clean your teeth after fitting your new braces.

I want to have orthodontic treatment but not with the traditional metallic braces. What other options are available?

With more and more adults seeking orthodontic treatment, a number of cosmetic alternatives have become very popular. Clear braces like Damon Clear are a good option when your Orthodontist recommends braces as the best option to treat your case.

In other cases, the Invisalign system which uses clear plastic aligners to move the teeth works very well.</p> <p>The gold standard for invisible braces is lingual braces which are fitted to the inside surface of the teeth. In our treatments section (Orthodontics) you may find all alternatives available with full details of each one.

Can I play contact sports?

Absolutely! Many of our patients play rugby, football, basketball and/or do some kind of martial arts while having orthodontic treatment.

You should protect your teeth and braces with a gum shield.

What should I do if I am having problems with my braces?

Whether you are using traditional braces, lingual braces, clear aligners or removable appliances please call us if you experience pain or discomfort so that we can explain next steps.

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