Orthodontic treatment and braces

Reasons for orthodontic treatment

Orthodontic treatment is used to straighten or move teeth, either to improve the appearance of your smile or to correct the way your teeth bite together. An incorrect bite can lead to long-term dental problems and even jaw and head pain. Straightening crooked teeth also makes them easier to clean.

Girl wearing braces with her mother

Lots of people have crooked or crowded teeth, which can be improved with orthodontic treatment. Teeth may stick out at an unusual angle, or the upper and lower teeth may not meet together correctly, which can put extra strain on the jaw muscles. Whatever the problem, orthodontic treatment may be the answer.

Orthodontic treatment is easier and works more quickly when carried out on children, but it is also suitable for adults. It is important that enough of your adult teeth have come through to be eligible for treatment. Talk to your dentist if you feel you or your child need orthodontic treatment, and they can advise you if it would be suitable.

What orthodontic treatment involves

If you or your dentist think you may benefit from having your teeth straightened, you will first require a full examination. Your dentist will thoroughly check your teeth, taking x-rays and impressions. A plaster model of the teeth is made.

Teeth with braces

Orthodontic treatment is carried out by using an appliance known as a brace, which uses gentle pressure to move the teeth into a straighter and healthier position. Some braces are quite simple and can be removed for cleaning. Other braces are fixed, and cannot be removed until the orthodontic treatment is over.

Some braces have elastic bands attached to help move the teeth into the correct position. In some cases, the patient may be required to wear headgear as well as a brace. Usually, headgear is only worn during the night. Clear plastic aligners are also available. These are almost invisible, making them less unsightly and embarrassing to wear.

Orthodontic treatment can take anything from a few months to one or two years, depending on the severity of the problem, and your dentist will need to adjust the braces every four to six weeks. Once the treatment is complete it will be necessary to wear an appliance known as a retainer, in order to hold the newly straightened teeth in place while the gum and bone around them settles.

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