Do you have a question about orthodontics? You’re not alone. Many of our patients do. Here’s a list of the most common questions we get asked.
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a specialist field of dentistry which concentrates on a patient’s overall facial symmetry and the alignment of teeth and jaws.
What qualifications does an orthodontist have?
An orthodontist has a five-year Bachelor of Dentistry followed by a master’s degree in the specialist field of orthodontics. More information about the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist can be found here.
How do I know if I need orthodontic treatment?
If your teeth are crowded, crooked, twisted or you have big gaps between them, you could benefit from orthodontic treatment. Similarly, if you have bite issues, such as an under, over or crossbite, orthodontic treatment could resolve this. You don’t need a referral from a dentist to see an orthodontist. You can book a free consultation directly with us.
Does orthodontic treatment hurt?
No, orthodontic treatment doesn’t hurt. When your appliances are fitted, and at certain times throughout your treatment when your braces or aligners are adjusted, you may experience some mild discomfort, but this will only last a day or two and can be treated with over-the-counter pain relief.
How long does orthodontic treatment take?
This depends on the type of orthodontic treatment you receive and the extent of the orthodontic problem you are being treated for. However, on average, orthodontic treatment ranges from between 12 and 24 months.
Is orthodontic treatment suitable for everyone?
Absolutely, children, teenagers and adults can receive orthodontic treatment and it is effective no matter what age the patient is. In fact, it is recommended that children have an orthodontic consultation by the age of seven to identify any early intervention that may be required.
How often do I need to see an orthodontist during treatment?
Once you are accepted for orthodontic care you will be expected to attend an appointment every 6-8 weeks. These appointments are to adjust your appliance. When you attend you will normally be seen by an Orthodontic Therapist, who is trained to the highest level to administer your care. All treatments take place under the prescription/supervision of your Orthodontic Specialist. You will also need to continue to visit your general dentist regularly throughout your treatment.
How do braces work?
Fixed braces are made up of two key components. A small bracket (square) is attached to the front surface of each tooth using orthodontic glue. A thin wire, known as an archwire, is then attached to the brackets with either coloured elastic rings, or they will simply clip intoa self-closing bracket.The wires exert small forces on the teeth through the brackets (squares) moving the teeth to a straighter position.
How long will it take me to get used to wearing braces?
Every patient’s experience with braces is different. Patients tend to adjust to the brace within a few days, however, it can take up to a week, and occasionally a little more.
Will I need elastics?
It may be necessary for you to wear elastics during your treatment. These are used to apply pressure to the teeth and jaws to correct the alignment of your teeth and occlusion (bite). You will be advised of this if it is necessary.
What do I do if I find the brace uncomfortable to wear?
It is likely that your teeth will feel tender following your brace being fitted. This means your brace has already begun working. Stick to a softer diet and, if necessary, you can take painkillers (such as ones you would normally take for a headache). We will supply you with some orthodontic wax for you to use if you find the brace is rubbing in an area, this will help prevent it making your mouth sore.
Can I eat normally while wearing braces?
Yes, you can eat normally; however, we do advise that you adjust your diet and how you eat throughout your treatment to prevent damaging your brace.At the start of treatment and when having the brace adjusted, your teeth are likely to feel sore. Stick to a softer diet with foods such as pasta, noodles, mashed potato and gravy, soups, etc.
Hard, crunchy and chewy foods break braces, as do biting nails, chewing pen lids and picking your brace. It is essential you avoid these foods and habits throughout your treatment. Apples, raw vegetables etc can be cut up into small pieces and eaten carefully on your back teeth.Broken brackets and bent wires will prolong your treatment, so avoiding these foods is necessary.
Can I play contact sports while wearing braces?
We would advise using a re-mouldable gum shield, as your teeth will be moving throughout treatment and a traditional gum shield will not fit. We sell Oproshield re-mouldable gum shields at our Cambridge practice. Please ask for our current prices - purchase over the phone and receive by post (excluding p&p).
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is an effective method of orthodontic treatment that uses clear plastic aligners to move teeth into position. These aligners are virtually invisible, which makes Invisalign a very discreet treatment option. It also removes the need for braces.
Can I be treated with Invisalign?
Invisalign is used by experienced orthodontists to correct most orthodontic problems. It is also available for teenagers in the form of Invisalign Teen. At your free adult consultation we can let you know whether Invisalign could be an effective treatment option for you.
What types of invisible treatment do you have available?
What are retainers?
Retainers are appliances which look like thin sports mouthguards. They are designed to be worn once your braces have been removed to ensure your teeth stay in position. Retainers are a very important phase of treatment, as without them your teeth could begin to move throughout growth and even in adulthood.
How do I look after my retainers?
It is important you keep your retainers in good condition to allow them to do their job of keeping your newly straightened teeth straight. When they are not in your mouth, keep them in the container provided and store them away from heat sources. When wearing them, always put your retainers in and take them out using your fingers. Push them on firmly to ensure they are seated over the teeth properly.
How do I keep my retainers clean?
In the morning rinse the retainers with cold water and clean them using a toothbrush. Always keep a toothbrush specifically for cleaning your retainers. We advise using Retainer Brite or denture cleaning tablets to keep your retainers fresh. Retainer Brite helps keep retainers fresh and clean, removes plaque and tartar, and kills bacteria. At our Cambridge practice you can buy 36 tablets for £5.
DO NOT use hot water to rinse or place the retainers near anything hot as this will cause them to shrink or distort. Don't use toothpaste to clean them either as this weakens the plastic and can make them crack.
What happens if I lose or break my retainers?
Contact the practice as soon as possible for us to arrange to see you to make new retainers. The longer it is left, the greater the risk your teeth may move. Your first set of retainers is free, however there may be a charge to replace them. NHS guideline prices for replacements are £73.29 each - £146.58 for a full set.After the year anniversary of your first set of retainers, all replacements will be chargeable.
Can I eat and drink while wearing my retainers?
Only drink cold water when you are wearing your retainers – do not eat with them in. If you take them out to eat or drink, please ensure the teeth are perfectly clean before you put them back in as (particularly sugary or acidic) foods and drinks will leave residue in the retainer and may damage your teeth.
Will wearing retainers affect my speech?
Retainers may cause you to make an ‘s’ sound a bit different to begin with. This will improve as you get used to wearing them. You may also produce more saliva when you first begin wearing them but this will only last a few days.
How often do I need to see an orthodontist while wearing retainers?
You will not need to be seen as often now that your retainers are in place. We keep patients under review for one year; seeing you at six-month intervals. Please bring your retainers with you to each of these visits. If you have any problems or questions about the retainers, please do not hesitate to contact us sooner.
What are removable appliances?
Removable appliances fit over the top or bottom teeth, or both, and may be used to correct an early problem for very simple tooth movements when you have a mixture of adult and baby teeth.
What happens when my removable appliance is fitted?
Initially the appliance will feel a little bulky in your mouth. This is to be expected and you will soon become used to it. You may feel as though you are producing more saliva than usual; this is very normal but should stop within a day of having the appliance fitted.
How do I remove the appliance?
Always pull on the clips around your back teeth, not the bars at the front. Do not flick the appliance in and out with your tongue as this will weaken the acrylic and lead to a breakage. Take the appliance in and out with your fingers.
Will my speech be affected?
Your speech may be a little different at first, and some words may seem difficult to pronounce (particularly ‘s’ sounds). To overcome this, we recommend speaking out loud as much as possible to allow your tongue to adapt to your new appliance.Your speech should return to normal as you get used to the brace.
Do removable appliances hurt?
The teeth and muscles around your mouth and jaws may feel tender after the appliance has been fitted. This is an indication your teeth have started to move already. We recommend eating a softer diet and taking painkillers if necessary (such as ones you would normally take for a headache).
If there is an obvious area of soreness as a result of the appliance, please ring for an appointment to have this looked at – do not stop wearing the appliance if possible.
How long will it take to get used to wearing the appliance?
You may find the first week wearing your removable appliance is difficult; however, the more you wear your appliance, the more quickly you will get used to it and soon it will become very easy to wear. It should take no more than a couple of weeks to fully adjust to your appliance. We always encourage patients to talk as much as possible with the appliance in to speed up this process.
How long does treatment take with a removable appliance?
Treatment length largely depends on what the appliance is being used for and how well you wear it. Patients who wear their appliance all the time, as instructed, progress with their treatment very quickly.
When should I wear my removable appliance?
Your removable appliance must be worn at all times, even when you are asleep (unless told otherwise by your orthodontist). The more you wear your appliance, the quicker your treatment will be. The appliance can be taken out for brushing the teeth, eating and sport, but it must be worn as soon as possible after.
How do I clean my removable appliance?
You should look after and clean your removable appliance just like you would care for your retainer at the end of treatment.
Do you have payment plans available?
Yes, we work alongside a company which offers 0% finance plans to help make the cost of your orthodontic treatment affordable. You can find out more about these on our cost and finance page.