Orthodontics

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a specialist branch of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis, prevention and correction of dental and facial irregularities occurring as a result of:

  • A bad bite or malocclusion
  • Missing or extra teeth
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Crooked teeth
  • Crowed teeth
  • An overbite
  • An underbite
  • Misaligned jaw position
  • A disorder of the jaw joint

Orthodontic irregularities are generally treated with braces. Braces are usually made from wires and springs attached to tiny metal plates or a plastic mould. Braces apply gentle forces to teeth and encourage them to to move slowly to adopt a different alignment. The best orthodontic results are achieved with children when their teeth are still growing; many adults have orthodontic treatment, but the process takes much longer. Visit our main braces page to read more about how they work and how to look after them.

The orthodontist will assess the teeth that need to be aligned and create either a fixed or removable brace, which can be adjusted during the course of the treatment to achieve the desired effect. The fixed braces, as their name implies, are permanent fixtures and are removed at the end of the treatment period, whereas removable braces can be taken off for eating and cleaning but are generally worn at all other times. Braces will improve the function of the teeth and the general appearance of the person.

What is a bad bite or malocclusion and what causes it?

A bad bite is the misalignment of teeth, jaws or the tempromandibular joint (TMJ), which causes functional problems such as difficulty in chewing and talking, and may well affect the appearance of a person.  It may occur genetically or as a result of the following conditions:

  • Trauma —fractured or knocked-out teeth in a growing child that, on replacement, fuses with the bone that surrounds them, resulting in an improper line up in the jaw

  • Prolonged thumb-sucking or pacifier use — can result in pronounced protrusion of upper teeth over the lower teeth.

  • Tongue-thrusting while swallowing — can result in pronounced protrusion of upper teeth over the lower teeth.

  • Premature loss of baby teeth — causing:
    • The permanent tooth to erupt incorrectly, resulting in crowded or partially erupted teeth.
    • The teeth next to the primary tooth to move into the vacant space and prevent the eruption of permanent tooth.

Why is orthodontic treatment crucial?

Beneficial in long-term dental health:

  • Properly aligned teeth are easier to maintain with proper oral hygiene.
  • Reduces the risk of tooth decay.

Improves chewing and digestion:

  • Since people with bad bites chew less efficiently, it can, in severe cases, result in nutritional deficiencies.

Improves speech:

  • Misaligned upper and lower teeth can cause speaking difficulties.

Prevents premature wearing of back-tooth surfaces:

  • Since the teeth withstand a tremendous amount of force when one bites down, in the case of people with improper bites, the back teeth are likely to wear out more quickly.

At what age can one start orthodontic screening and treatment?

  • Early childhood - you can have an orthodontic screening from the age of 7, by which time enough of the permanent teeth would have emerged, helping to identify potential problems. Do not wait for all the permanent teeth erupt in the mouth, as the earlier you start, the more the advantages. 
  • During adolescent and teenage years – all permanent teeth would have come in by now, and treatment is most effective at this age
  • At adulthood - more complicated and often requires more than one dental professional to fully correct a problem.

What does orthodontic treatment involve?

There are two stages in orthodontic treatment

  • The active phase — which involves the use of braces or other appliances to correct the alignment and bite.
  • The retention phase —use of a retainer to hold the teeth that have been brought into their new position and ensure long-term results.

How much does orthodontic treatment cost?

The cost of orthodontic treatment varies depending on a number of factors, type of treatment required and the severity of crookedness and gaps that you may have. Costs can typically be from £1000 for minor orthodontic adjustments to £9000 and above for orthodontic treatment involving lingual braces with a specialist orthodontist.

Invisalign or invisible braces

Some cosmetic dentists/orthodontists offer Invisalign, which uses a series of virtually invisible aligners custom-moulded to your teeth to help reposition them over time. The advantages of Invisalign are that the aligners can be removed when eating and cleaning, and it's not obvious to others that you are having treatment or wearing braces. You can read more about invisible orthodontics on our Invisalign page. Another form of invisible braces are Lingual braces, which, although made from metal brackets and wires, are placed at the back of the teeth and are invisible when you smile.

Inman Aligners

Inman Aligners are an alternative to Invisalign treatment for simple orthodontic cases that require movements of the front teeth only. This removable appliance achieves complete movement in about six to eight weeks in some cases; however, it is not suitable for all and it's best to seek advice through an orthodontic consultation before choosing the treatment for your problem. Your can read more about this appliance on our Inman Aligner page.

Six-Month Smiles

By using tooth-coloured wires and brackets, the six-month braces system relies on moving the teeth that show when you smile to give you a straight smile in a fraction of the time that other orthodontic treatments take (two to three years) to achieve the same aesthetic result. You can read more about this treatment on our Six-Month Smiles page

Low-Friction Damon Braces

As orthodontic technology has improved over time, there are a wide variety of braces available for straightening and moving teeth. Friction-free braces, such as the Damon braces system, provide a faster and more comfortable alternative to conventional fixed orthodontic braces.

Simpli5 clear aligner

The Simpli5 system of clear aligners uses a maximum of 5 removable clear aligners to treat mild orthodontic cases. It is ideal for orthodontic relapse or minor tooth movement or small gaps. Read our Simpli5 page for more information.

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