What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the field of dentistry that focuses on moving your teeth within your jaws to straighten them. The aim of orthodontic treatment is to improve the harmony of your mouth and jaws by correcting problems with bite and alignment. This is done using teeth straightening devices such as braces and aligners.

What sort of problems can be corrected with Orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment can correct problems such as:

  • Protruding upper front teeth
  • Crowding – if you have a narrow or smaller jaw, it may mean that there wasn’t enough room for your teeth to grow in a straight formation when you were younger
  • Spacing – on the flipside, some people have significant gaps between their teeth, which can make them feel self conscious
  • Asymmetry – one example of asymmetry is where the centre lines of your upper and lower front teeth don’t match
  • Overbite (deep bite) – where your upper teeth cover the lower teeth too much
  • Reversed overjet (reverse bite) – where your upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth
  • Open bite – where your front teeth remain apart, even when your back teeth meet, which means that your tongue is still visible between your upper and lower front teeth
  • Impacted teeth – this is where teeth that should come through, don’t, and get stuck in the jaws

What are the benefits of having straighter teeth?

Problems with alignment, such as overbites or crowding, can make your teeth more prone to damage or decay; having straighter teeth will also improve the function of your bite and make eating a far more comfortable experience.

For many people, one of the most compelling reasons to have orthodontic treatment is so that they can feel more confident about their appearance and their smile. If you have crooked teeth, you may have spent years hiding at the back of family photographs or covering your smile with your hand. Worrying about your smile may have held you back at work and in your personal life, or it may just be a nagging dissatisfaction with your appearance that affects your confidence, even if no-one else knows that’s how you feel. Orthodontic treatment offers a long-term solution by boosting the aesthetics of your facial profile and smile.

What types of braces are available?

Broadly speaking, there are two types of braces – removable and fixed.

Removable braces are those which can be removed for cleaning.

Fixed braces use a series of brackets, which are glued to your teeth, and wires to gradually move your teeth into the right position. They cannot be removed for cleaning.

What is the difference between braces, aligners and retainers?

As we’ve mentioned above, braces use a series of brackets and wires to create the force that will move your teeth into their final position. They tend to be suitable for most cases, including more complex orthodontic problems. Most fixed braces work on the front of your teeth but it is possible to have Lingual braces, which are fitted behind your teeth, making your treatment invisible to others.

Removable braces typically comprise an acrylic palate with wire components, and are used to correct problems with bite, especially in children and teens who still have some baby (primary) teeth.

Many so-called ‘invisible orthodontic’ systems use an aligner – this is a single unit that fits snugly over your teeth and, again, applies a gentle force that will gradually move your teeth in your jaw towards their final, straight position. You typically have to change your aligner every two weeks as each aligner will be made for a specific stage in your treatment.

You will need to wear a retainer after your orthodontic treatment is complete. This is usually a clear device, a lot like an aligner, which keeps your teeth in their final position. Depending on your individual case, you may need to wear the retainer full-time for six months and then only at night for another six months. Without a retainer, your teeth may drift back to their old position.

Will I have to wear traditional metal braces?

These days, there are loads of choices when it comes to finding the right orthodontic treatment for your needs. Although traditional metal braces are an effective option and one that we do offer at Heaton Mersey Orthodontic Centre, they are not your only choice.

We offer a range of brace systems, including the popular Damon Brace System, which has a metal and clear version; we also provide a clear brace with white wires. Both systems provide a more aesthetically-pleasing alternative to traditional braces.

You may be a candidate for an aligner system such as Invisalign or Six Month Smiles.

How long will my treatment take?

The length of your tooth straightening treatment will depend on the complexity of your case and also which orthodontic solution will give you the best possible outcome. Treatment with Invisalign clear aligners, for example, can be completed in as little as four to twelve months, whereas treatment with Damon braces takes about 20 months on average.

If you would like your teeth straighter for a forthcoming event – perhaps for your wedding or a public speaking engagement – please do talk to us, as you may be a suitable candidate for one of our quicker tooth straightening options (see Six Month Smiles).

Will my treatment be painful?

Orthodontic treatment should never cause a high level of pain or discomfort.

With fixed braces, people often report some initial pressure that can feel uncomfortable for one to four days; they may also find that immediately after the brace is fitted, it rubs on the soft tissue in their mouth causing some discomfort but this should pass over time. Any pain can usually be managed well with over-the-counter painkillers.

With aligner systems, people do sometimes experience a feeling of pressure, particularly when they switch to a new aligner but, again, this feeling can be managed well with painkillers.

Could wearing a fixed brace damage my teeth?

If you wear a fixed brace, it is incredibly important that you clean your teeth regularly, paying particular attention to the area surrounding the brackets and cleaning under the wires, otherwise you may be at risk from decay caused by trapped food. If you look after your teeth properly and attend your regular appointments, you shouldn’t experience any damage.

Will wearing a brace or aligner affect my speech?

Most people say that it takes them about a week to get used to wearing their brace or aligner. If you have a removable brace or aligner with an artificial palate, your speech may be affected slightly for a couple of days but you will soon learn to compensate and speak without problems.

Will I have to change my diet if I have a brace?

If we use a removable brace or aligner to straighten your teeth, then there will be no need for you to change your diet. One of the benefits of a system like Invisalign is that you can take your aligner out at mealtimes and to brush your teeth, so it’s easy to maintain your oral health.

If you have a fixed brace, you will need to think about choosing brace-friendly food and drinks for the duration of your treatment. This means:

  • Avoiding crunchy, hard or sticky foods that could damage or get trapped in your brace
  • Avoiding sugary food and drinks between meal times and at bedtimes
  • Avoiding fizzy and acidic drinks
  • Limiting fruit juices to meal times

Can I wear a brace or aligner if I have a crown or bridge?

Yes, you should still be able to have a brace or aligner, even if you already have a crown, bridge or even a dental implant. One of the benefits of having your treatment under a specialist orthodontist is that we are experienced at finding solutions for more complex cases and will explore how to deliver the best results while accommodating the restorations already in place.

Can I have my brace fitted straight away?

How soon we can fit your brace depends on your individual case. Before we begin your orthodontic treatment, we will make sure that you are otherwise dentally fit.

What happens after my brace or aligner is fitted?

You will need to attend the practice every four to eight weeks, depending on your type of brace, to have it adjusted. These appointments usually take between 10 and 20 minutes. We’ll also check that you’re maintaining a good standard of tooth brushing and give you the opportunity to ask any questions you might have.

If you are fitted with an aligner, we will give you a series of aligners to take away and change every two weeks, in which case you may not need to attend appointments quite as frequently as brace wearers.

Will I have to have teeth extracted?

Braces and aligners can be fitted without the need for extractions but it really will depend on the complexity of your case. With overcrowding, for example, extractions may be necessary to give your other teeth room to move into a straighter position that will improve your bite and the appearance of your smile. We would only ever recommend extractions if we felt it would give the best long-term outcome for your orthodontic treatment. In all cases, our priority will be to save your healthy teeth, if at all possible.

Will you be able to show me what my teeth will look like after my orthodontic treatment?

Yes, with Invisalign treatment the ‘Treat software’ allows us to show you your ‘Clincheck’ – this amazing advance in technology lets us plot out the journey your teeth will need to take and show you their planned final position.

Am I too old for braces?

Not at all. More and more adults undergo orthodontic treatment every year, choosing to have their teeth straightened because they regret not having had a brace as a child or they’ve seen the fantastic results of their own child’s tooth straightening treatment. It is never too late to correct the flaws that make you feel self-conscious about your smile and the great news for adults is that there are a number of discreet options to choose from.

I enjoy playing contact sports in my spare time but could this damage my brace or aligner?

If you wear an aligner, we would recommend that you take it out for sports or swimming. If you have a fixed brace, we can provide you with a gum shield to protect your teeth, gums and lips while you’re playing.

Who can carry out Orthodontics?

The General Dental Council (GDC) allows any dentist to work in any area of dentistry, as long as they feel competent to do so, which means that any dentist can offer orthodontic treatments. However, Orthodontics is a specific area of expertise and a dentist can only call themselves a ‘specialist orthodontist’ if they have undergone extensive training and are registered on the orthodontic specialist list with the GDC.

If you have any more questions about clear braces in Stockport, Manchester then contact us today!