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Frequently Asked Questions About Orthodontics

We’re happy to provide answers to the most popular questions about teeth braces, whether these are pre or post treatment we are always happy to help. If you cannot find the answer to the question you are looking for, simply contact us at the practice.

Why do I need teeth braces?

Usually it is because the teeth are overcrowded or bite wrongly. Braces can also help prominent or ‘gappy’ teeth, or teeth that grow in the wrong place.

Why have I been referred by my dentist?

Your dentist is trained to look for orthodontic problems, which don’t just include crooked teeth, but also the development of the teeth and how they meet. Often a general dentist is more focused on general dental health and looking after your teeth and refer to a specialist orthodontist to get more complex treatments and further advice.

Can I refer myself to a specialist orthodontist?

Yes, you can refer yourself, either ring us or fill in your details on the contact page. However, we strongly advise you are registered with a general dentist. The orthodontist will keep your dentist informed about your treatment and any work they may need to do (like extractions or fillings).

Can’t my dentist do the work?

An orthodontic specialist has received at least 3 years comprehensive training in orthodontics alone and is best placed to advise on and treat a whole range of problems. A general dentist will refer work which is beyond his/her ability and training.

Do I need to stay registered with my dentist?

Your orthodontist will not carry out routine dental care. It is important to keep your mouth healthy during treatment by seeing your dentist regularly.

What age could I have braces?

The usual age is once the adult teeth have come through, roughly the age of 12. However we do treat younger patients if there is a need and a clear benefit. Braces can be used on adults of all ages, there is no upper age limit!

What sort of braces are there?

There are fixed braces, removable braces, Invisalign and lingual braces (that sit behind your teeth).

Can I choose what sort of braces I have?

The orthodontist will advise you which type of brace will work best for you. If you have a preference please discuss this at your initial visit, as we always try to tailor treatment to suit you.

Can I have colours on my brace?

Standard fixed braces use small elastics to hold the wire in. These can be plain or coloured and are changed every visit. Try the colours of your football team or your favourite colour!

Can I have invisible braces?

There is no such thing as truly invisible braces however we do have less noticeable options. Tooth coloured braces can be used to make the brace less noticeable. We also use Invisalign (Clear braces) and braces on the back (lingual) of the teeth. See Types of Braces.

I have been refused Orthodontic treatment on the NHS. Can I still have braces?

If your teeth are not severe enough for NHS treatment you can be treated privately if your orthodontist feels you will get some benefit.

I don’t want braces. Do I have to have them?

In general, it is up to you to decide. However, the orthodontist will advise you about any risks that may occur if you don’t have a brace.

How long do you have to wear braces?

This depends on your problem and can be affected by the type of brace you have. Most treatments take between 6 and 20 months. You will be given a guide to treatment time at your initial visit.

How often will I need to see the orthodontist?

Once your treatment starts you will usually visit every 6-10 weeks.

Can I play contact sports with braces?

Yes, but it is essential you wear a mouthguard for training and matches. This should be custom made by your dentist or orthodontist, and should be made to fit over fixed braces.

Will I still be able to sing or play a wind instrument with orthodontic braces?

With some practice you will be able to carry on as before. Please talk to your orthodontist and your music teacher about this.

What are the risks of orthodontic treatment?

Common problems include damage to the teeth if you don’t clean them properly or look after your diet (see Aftercare). Tooth roots also get slightly shorter during treatment, but usually it is almost undetectable. Other risks will be discussed if they apply to you.

What is a tooth retainer?

Retainers are used after your teeth are straight to hold them in the new position. Without retainers your teeth would move again. They are usually removable clear covers, worn at night.

How long do I need to wear retainers for?

For as long as you want your teeth to remain straight. Your teeth will move a little all through your life. Keep wearing the retainers if you want to be sure of keeping straight teeth.

What do I do if I have a loose bracket or Band?

Call the surgery as soon as possible if you break or loosen any of your appliances. Please do not come directly, by calling us, you will allow us to create a time to see you.

The brace may need to be re-fitted as soon as possible. You may have a situation that requires cutting a wire or sliding a bracket off a wire at night or over the weekend.

Even if you have a regular appointment scheduled, call us immediately to notify us if you need an appliance repaired as these appointment times need to be longer.

How can I avoid wire irritations and ulcers?

Sometimes discomfort caused by a wire sticking out on your braces can be resolved by moving the wire away from the irritated area with a cotton swab or eraser. If the wire will not move, try covering the end of it with a small piece of wax.

What do I do if I lose a separator?

Most patients lose a separator during their treatment. Do not worry about losing a separator, but call our office to see if it needs to be replaced.

Do braces hurt?

During the first week after your braces are in place and routine adjustments are complete, you will likely feel some soreness or discomfort. You may take paracetamol or other non-aspirin pain relievers while you adjust to your new braces.

What do I do if wires or orthodontic bands become loose?

Don’t be alarmed if a wire or band comes loose. This happens occasionally. If wire protrudes and is irritating, use a blunt instrument (back of spoon or the eraser end of a pencil) and carefully, gently push the irritating wire under the archwire.

Simply get it out of the way. If irritation to the lips or mouth continues, place wax on the wire to reduce the annoyance. Call the surgery as soon as possible for an appointment to check and repair the appliances. If any piece comes off, save it and bring it with you.

Emergency Care for Braces

As a general rule, an emergency appointment may be made when there is severe pain, a loose band, a broken wire or something sticking out that you can’t take care of. It’s important to know the names of the parts of your appliances. It will help, when you phone the office, to be able to identify what part is broken or out of place. Ring the surgery for out of hours emergency procedures.

Parts of an orthodontic brace

Orthodontic braces diagram

image source: perth-orthodontist.com.au