Fixed appliances (Braces)
Fixed appliances (braces) remain the most popular type of orthodontic appliance. They now come in a wide range of types including metal (stainless steel), ceramic (tooth-coloured) which are usually fitted to the outside of the teeth and those fitted behind the teeth are lingual braces.
Removable Appliances (Braces)
Removable appliances (braces) include removable aligners and functional appliances as well as simple conventional types made of wire and plastic that can do simple, limited tooth movement. Aligners are removable clear plastic appliances which fit over the teeth and progressively move them to the desired position. Functional appliances are basically use to create jaw hormony.
Is Orthodontic Treatment Painful ?
Fitting the braces is not be painful. For a fixed appliance the brackets are simply glued to the faces of the teeth; metal bands may also need to be cemented round the back teeth. A degree of discomfort is likely to start with the band placement process. You can expect some aching and tenderness in the gums as the teeth start to move, but this mostly wears off after a few days. As the biological processes get underway around the tooth roots to allow the teeth to move, you can expect some aching and the teeth will be tender to bite on. This usually settles down in a few days, although some patients do experience a degree of tenderness for a longer period. It may be helpful to take your normal painkillers or a day or two. Some further discomfort may be experienced when the brace is adjusted subsequently, but this depends very much on what adjustments have been made.
How will I know if I need teeth extracted ?
Much depends on the problem which needs correcting. A decision can only be reached on the basis of a detailed case assessment by your orthodontist. For some patients, in order to get the best appearance and long-term stable result, extractions will be part of a gold standard plan.
What happens when my braces are removed ?
The tissues and bone around the roots take time to adjust to the new tooth positions and there is a particular risk of relapse in the early months after the brace is removed. Even in the longer term the risk of relapse remains and the best advice is to continue retention for the long term. Retainers are essential in most of the orthodontic cases. Retainers may be removable or fixed - here are the key differences:
Removable retainers may be worn full time initially, but reduced to night times later or night times only from the start of the retention period. Your orthodontist will advise you on when to wear your retainer. They are effective but obviously depend on the patient remembering to wear them.
Fixed retainers are usually glued to the back of the teeth. They are therefore in place all the time. A high standard of tooth cleaning in the vicinity of the retainer is essential to avoid gum problems. They do need regular inspection because if any of the glue fails, the tooth in question may start to drift out of position. For this reason it is essential for the patient to contact the orthodontist at once if there is a breakage.
How long will treatment take ?
In general, orthodontic treatment takes between 1 or 2 years to get the teeth to bite in a better way in harmony with the jaws and lips. It may take longer for more difficult problems. However, simple straightening can sometimes be carried out as quickly as 6 months, particularly if it’s only the front 6 teeth. A relatively short treatment like this usually produces limited changes and this is not always a long-term solution as often this isn’t enough time to move the whole tooth, including the roots, into the right place, this may mean the teeth may quickly move back to their original positions once the braces are taken off.
Does adult treatment differ from treatment for children ?
No, not really. Teeth can be moved at any age as long as the teeth and gums are healthy with adequate bony support. The expectations from treatment may be different in adult patients, e.g. adults may want limited orthodontic correction. This is something that should be discussed with orthodontist when outlining the treatment options.
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