Frequently Asked Questions About Teeth Straightening

What is orthodontics? 

Orthodontics is using braces to move the  teeth within the jaw bones to straighten them. It can also move the teeth so that they bite more evenly and comfortably. 

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Who provides orthodontics? 

Specialist orthodontists are fully qualified Dentists who have done additional training, degrees and exams to be able to provide orthodontic treatment and are registered on the Specialist list by the General Dental Council. Some dentists also can provide limited orthodontics. 

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Is orthodontic treatment available on the NHS? 

All children under 18 years will be assessed free of charge under the NHS and if eligible under strict government guidelines, then they the orthodontic treatment can be provided free of charge on the NHS.

If your child is not eligible for NHS orthodontic treatment there is an option to pay privately for their treatment. All adults over the age of 18 years will be assessed for a minimal fee and then given their treatment options and costs.

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What types of braces are available? 

On the NHS, Stainless Steel braces are provided and these are the most popular braces worn by children and can have coloured elastic ties for a bit of fun! They are worn on the front surface of your teeth, are easy to fit and comfortable to wear.

Functional braces are sometimes required in addition to the fixed braces to help correct the bite. These are usually removable braces with blocks on them to help posture the jaw and move the teeth.

Privately there are several other options. Ceramic braces are tooth coloured low profile brackets that are also on the front of the teeth but are more discreet but also comfortable to wear. 

Hidden lingual braces are fixed braces that are fully customised to your mouth and are are fitted on the inside of the teeth. Patients that opt for these often say that friends and family have never noticed their brace!

Invisalign clear aligners are customised clear trays that are metal free. They are removable and almost invisible.

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What are retainers?

Teeth will try to move back to their original position once the braces have been removed. Therefore removable and sometimes fixed retainers are provided after the treatment is complete to reduce the chance of the teeth moving.  It is crucial that you wear the retainers as instructed by your orthodontist. 

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How long will treatment take? 

Simple straightening can sometimes be carried out as quickly as 6 months, particularly if it’s only for the front teeth. However, short treatment like this usually has limited objectives and a quick fix isn't always a good long-term solution and may mean the teeth quickly move back to their original positions once the braces are removed. It often takes between 18 months to 2 years to get the teeth straight and to bite together correctly. More difficult problems can take longer. 

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What happens at my first appointment?

The orthodontist will discuss your concerns about your teeth then examine your face and mouth. You may need to have X-rays and/or photographs taken. The orthodontist will then discuss your options for treatment. 

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Will treatment be painful? 

Having a brace fitted is a relatively painless procedure. However the teeth are likely to ache for a few days following fitting and adjustments. We recommend that normal painkillers that are taken for a headache be taken as per the instructions on the packet. Most problems resolve in 2 days to 1 week. 

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How often will my appointments be?

Braces are generally adjusted every 6 to 8 weeks and it is very important that you attend each appointment.

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Do I still need to visit my regular dentist? 

Yes. It is very important to visit your own dentist and hygienist regularly throughout treatment as they still need to monitor the health of your teeth and gums.

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Do I need to change  my diet and brushing habits during treatment? 

Yes you will need to change your diet to avoid damaging your brace. If your brace breaks your treatment time will increase. You will need to avoid all hard or chewy foods for the duration of your treatment. You should also quit sugary foods and carbonated  drinks to avoid tooth decay. You will need to spend longer on brushing your teeth in order to clean the brace as well as the teeth.

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