Frequently asked questions

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.

About orthodontics About metal braces About Invisalign About retention Removable appliances Attachments Elastics IPR Cost and finance


About orthodontics

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.

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About metal braces

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).

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About Invisalign

What is Invisalign and how does it work?

Invisalign is a series of discrete clear plastic aligners which are changed weekly or fortnightly, each aligner is different and unique to that patient which allows the teeth to align. Attachments are placed on the teeth which, like the brackets of a metal train track brace, creates a force on that tooth allowing it to move.

Can anyone have treatment with Invisalign?

In most instances yes, however some cases may require a fixed brace (metal or ceramic) to achieve the desired final result. The specialist orthodontist will advise which course of treatment will give the best outcome at the assessment appointment.

Is there specific training required by dentists to provide Invisalign?

Although dentists can provide Invisalign treatment after receiving the training, they are not Specialist Orthodontists. Specialist orthodontists are trained for a further three years after becoming dentists. They need to study for three years, take an exam, and pass to qualify prior to being permitted to join the Specialist Orthodontic register in the UK. Francis Scriven and Paul Williams have a further 15 years of experience post joining this register and have many years of experience in providing Invisalign treatments.

Does Invisalign hurt?

The aligners are designed to be smooth within the mouth, however they are creating movement with the teeth. This can make the teeth feel achy and sometimes sore, we would recommend patients to take normal over the counter pain relief such as would be taken for a headache.

Can I eat or drink with the aligners in?

No. You will need to remove your aligners for eating and drinking anything other than water.

We also recommend taking your aligners out if you smoke as it will stain them, but remember they must be in your mouth at least 22 hours a day. Taking them in and out a lot adds up!

Can I still have Invisalign if I have crowns or a bridge?

Generally, this is not an issue. Depending on where the bridge or crowns are will have an effect on the treatment. Invisalign offers the flexibility to move some teeth and not others.

Can I chew gum with the aligners in?

No, gum will stick to the aligners.

Will wearing the aligners change my speech?

Like all orthodontic treatments, aligners may temporarily affect the speech of some people, and you may have a slight lisp for a day or two. However, as your tongue gets used to having aligners in your mouth, any lisp caused by the aligners should disappear.

How do I look after my aligners?

If the aligners are not in your mouth, keep them in the box provided as leaving them on the side wrapped in tissue or loose can either lead to accidental discarding or may be eaten by pets! They are clear and can easily be lost. Always put them in and take them out using your fingers, (pushing them firmly into place, aided by using the “chewies” given to you at your first appointment. There should be no gaps between the plastic and your teeth) as biting aligners or retainers into place or flicking them out with your tongue will eventually result in the aligners or retainers breaking over time. Keep the aligners or retainers away from heat sources.

How do I clean them?

In the morning rinse the aligners or retainers with cold water and brush them with a toothbrush, which is not used for tooth cleaning as toothpaste can crack the plastic. We advise patients to use Retainer Brite or denture cleaning tablets to clean the aligners at least once a week to keep them fresh. Retainer Brite helps keep the aligners or retainers clean, removes plaque, tartar and kills bacteria. Always use cold water to clean the aligners or retainers as warm or hot water can cause the plastic to crack or distort. Retainer Brite can be purchased from any of our practices for £6.75 for 36 tablets (purchase over the phone and receive by post excludes p&p)

What do I do if I lose my aligner?

  1. Try moving onto your next aligner, it may feel tight, but as long as it “seats” fully over the teeth continue with this aligner, but for extra time.
  2. If it does not “seat” well, go back one aligner and contact the practice informing us of which aligner has been lost or broken.
  3. There is a nominal charge for replacement, currently £25 per single aligner.
  4. Once we are aware and taken payment we will order and post out to you. This could take up to 10 days.

What happens if an attachment comes off?

Please call us to make an appointment as soon as possible and we will need to know what number aligner you are on to enable us to order the template for reapplying the attachment at that stage of your treatment. This could take up to 10 days.

What happens after treatment to prevent my teeth from moving?

Retention is an essential part of orthodontic treatment. A thin undetectable retention wire is bonded to the back of the front upper and lower teeth to ensure no tooth movement. A retainer, similar to the Invisalign aligner, must be worn at night as a ‘back up’ to the retention wire.

How long do you have to wear the retainer and wire?

For as long as you want your teeth to stay straight.

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About retention

Removable Retainers?

Removable Retainers look like a thin, clear gum shield, and are required when treatment has finished. They are specially designed to help ‘retain’ the improvements that we have achieved together and will prevent teeth from moving while they settle into their desired positions.

Fixed/Bonded Retainers: A fixed retainer is also known as a bonded retainer. It is a thin metal wire glued behind the front 4 or 6 teeth. In some cases upper and lower bonded retainers will be provided if the bite allows, otherwise just a lower will be placed at the end of treatment. A removable retainer will also always be provided to wear nightly alongside your bonded retainer.

Why is it important to wear retainers?

This is a very important phase of treatment, as without retainers your teeth could begin to move. The teeth will need support, and your co-operation in wearing the retainers as directed will be essential to keep your teeth straight.

When/How long will I wear them?

As a minimum general rule – we recommend wearing retainers every night for the first 1-2 years post treatment. We ask you to return at 6 months & 12 months post treatment. At these appointments will advise in more detail how to decrease retainer wear to part-time. The only way to keep your teeth as they are at the end of treatment is to continue wearing retainers on a part time basis for life - British Orthodontic Society advice. Usually patients can decrease wear over time; eventually to once a week. When at this stage if your retainers begin to feel tight at any point, increase the wear again as this is an indication of the teeth trying to move. Please note long term retention is your responsibility after the first year of completion of treatment.

What do I do if I lose or break them?

Whether it’s your removable or bonded retainer, contact us as soon as possible and we will book an appointment to see you to make new retainers. The longer you are without your retainers the more chance there is of your teeth moving.

Please be aware:

The first set of retainers is included in the price of treatment, and a replacement set within the first year will be free of charge if there is a manufacturing issue. However after the first year the responsibility for retention is yours; both in your continued commitment to wearing them and to the cost of replacement of either the vacuum formed retainers or the bonded retainers

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Removable appliances

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.

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I’ve heard people talk about attachments with Invisalign aligners. What are they?

Attachments are small tooth-coloured dots fitted to some of your teeth during your orthodontic treatment. The role of attachments is to give your Invisalign aligners something to stick too, helping them to guide your teeth into position. The attachments blend in with the colour of your teeth so are as discreet as the Invisalign aligners themselves. Not all your teeth will require an attachment fitted to them, but our orthodontist can let you know how many attachments we’ll need to fit to your teeth.


What are elastics and do I have to wear them?

Elastics are small rubber bands which connect the brackets of your braces and are used to change the way your teeth ‘bite’ together. The bands help to place gentle force on your teeth and jaw, helping your braces to gently move your teeth into a straighter position. Our orthodontist will show you how to attach the bands, which you can remove when cleaning your teeth. They can also be easily replaced should they snap at any stage.


What is Interproximal Reduction?

Interproximal Reduction, also known as IPR, is the process of removing minimal amounts of enamel from certain teeth using fine diamond impregnated strips between the teeth. This enables teeth to move more freely into their desired position. In some cases, IPR may be used instead of extracting healthy teeth. IPR is a safe and reliable method used by Invisalign and specialist orthodontists.

Cost and finance

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.

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Anglia Orthodontics
The Pavilion, Lammas Field

8:45am – 5:00pm
8:45am - 8:00pm
8:45am - 5:00pm
8:45am - 8:00pm
8:45am - 4:00pm

01223 305526

Dental Services
Princess Of Wales Hospital
Lynn Rd

8:45am - 5:00pm
8:45am - 4:00pm

01353 669570

Huntingdon NHS Treatment Centre
Hinchingbrooke Park
PE29 6NT

8:45am - 5:00pm
8:45am - 5:00pm
8:45am - 5:00pm
8:45am - 5:00pm
8:45am - 4:00pm

01480 453184