The following advice is supplied routinely to anyone considering orthodontic treatment.
Normally, excellent orthodontic results can be achieved with close co-operation between, parent and orthodontist. The benefits of orthodontics are a pleasing smile and healthy teeth and gums, but there are limitations.
PLEASE READ CAREFULLY. ASK YOUR DENTIST TO EXPLAIN ANY POINT YOU ARE NOT SURE ABOUT.
What are braces?
Braces are usually made of metal or glass, which are cemented to your teeth. Wires and elastics are used to move crooked teeth into better positions. Sometimes, especially for young children, plastic plates with wire springs are used to move teeth. Headgear is sometimes used to avoid having to pull out teeth in the treatment.
Do I need to pull out any teeth?
If your jaws are too small, or teeth too large; your orthodontist may select some teeth to be taken out to create space to guide the rest of the teeth into a better alignment. Sometimes, if the crowding is very mild, extractions can be avoided provided the patient is willing to wear a headgear to move the molars backwards.
Are braces painful?
In order to move teeth, a force has to be applied and this may cause some discomfort when an appliance is fitted , or adjusted. In addition, the teeth will become slightly loose but will firm up once the appliances are removed. When the braces are first fitted in, some ulcers might develop before healing soon after as the surrounding tissues of the mouth get use to it.
Are braces very difficult to clean?
Yes, braces will make cleaning more difficult but not impossible. Your orthodontist will teach you how to brush your teeth and braces. You can continue to use the same toothbrush to clean your braces using a new technique.
Will the braces cause decay to my teeth?
Braces cannot damage teeth. Dental decay is not caused by the braces but rather the lack of effort in keeping them clean.
Excellent oral hygiene and plaque removal are essential. This is of particular importance with braces that are cemented to the teeth. Food and plaque will collect on these and, if this is not removed by brushing, white marks (decalcification) on the surfaces of the teeth may result.
There is little point in having perfectly aligned but badly decayed teeth at the end of orthodontic treatment.
How else can braces affect the health of my teeth?
Teeth that have deep fillings or even a minor blow can die over a long period of time, with or without orthodontic treatment. It is rare for tooth movement to cause a tooth to become non-vital, but an undetected non-vital tooth may cause symptoms during orthodontics and require root treatment to maintain it.
In a few cases, the root ends shorten slightly during treatment and this is called resorption. In a healthy mouth, this causes no disadvantage.
Are braces dangerous?
Any headgear which is being worn should be removed carefully and the elastics released before removing, otherwise the wire could poke into the face. Wearing braces will not hamper you in participating in sports. Your orthodontist can easily fit you with a mouth-guard or change the design of the braces so that your sport activities can be continued.
Will the braces break easily?
Braces are meant to be taken out eventually at the end of treatment. They will come off or loosen if you purposely bite hard on them. It is important to take care of your braces and follow instructions on diet.
If an appliance breaks or come loose, it is important that it should be repaired quickly, as broken or distorted wires will delay treatment and may cause injury. If an appliance is loose, broken or painful, you should contact your orthodontist immediately to arrange a repair.
Do I have to wear my braces all the time?
Braces are usually worn fulltime in order to provide a steady force to move the teeth. Teeth will not move as planned if you tend to forget to wear the braces, headgear or elastics as instructed by your orthodontist.
How long do I have to wear my braces?
The average period of wearing braces is two years. The total treatment time may be longer or shorter than estimated. Favourable or infavourable growth, lack of co-operation, broken appliances and missed appointments are all important factors which could lengthen treatment time and affect the quality of result.
How often do I have to see my orthodontist?
Braces must be adjusted regularly to ensure that teeth continue to move in the desired direction. Wire and elastics may be changed and plates trimmed. Progress has also to be monitored. Regular attendance will ensure that treatment is completed in minimum time.
Will my teeth move as planned?
Occasionally, a person who has grown normally and in average proportions may not continue to do so. In such cases, the treatment objectives may have to be altered, as skeletal growth is beyond the orthodontist’s control.
Will the results last?
Teeth have a tendency to rebound to their original positions after orthodontic treatment. This call relapse. Conditions which were originally very severe have a higher tendency to relapse. After tooth movement is complete, retainers are placed in to minimize relapse, and co-operation in wearing these is vital.
What are retainers?
Retainers are like removable braces which passively hold the teeth in their new position till the gums and bone aroud them firms up. They are normally worn for about a year. Sometimes, if the bony support of the teeth is poor, retainers may be needed permanently.