Orthodontic treatment is most often used to improve the appearance and alignment of teeth and correct problems with the bite. Your dentist will need to refer you to an orthodontist.
Benefits of Orthodontics
- Correction of dental crowding and straightening of the teeth
- Correction of the bite so that the front and back teeth meet evenly
- Reducing the chance of damage to prominent teeth
- Improving your appearance – your smile!
Teeth are more likely to become damaged or put a strain on jaw muscles when someone has crooked, crowded or teeth that don’t meet properly when they bite. Abnormal development of the teeth or jaw can also affect the shape of the face. Orthodontics can also treat other health problems such as a cleft lip/palate and even cases of mild sleep apnoea!
Orthodontics is normally started on children when they are about twelve years old when they have lost most of their baby teeth and while they are still growing. It is dependent on the amount of adult teeth they have and the growth of their face and jaws. Orthodontics can be started at any age, but treatment options are more limited in adults.
Orthodontic treatment can increase the risk of tooth decay, so its of utmost importance that the patient has a good standard of oral hygiene or the orthodontist can postpone your treatment or even refuse to treat you. People wearing fixed braces are at risk of getting more of a build-up of plaque as they can trap food, which in turn, can cause tooth decay when acid is produced from the plaque. Your orthodontist may recommend a high fluoride toothpaste and extra tooth-brushing will be required. You should also avoid sugary foods and fizzy drinks. You will still need to see your dentist regularly.
Orthodontics mainly uses braces to correct the position of the teeth, but your exact treatment will depend on the problem with your teeth. It’s common to have some teeth removed as part of your treatment. Some braces are removable, which you take out at night or to eat a meal. NHS braces are made of metal; but plastic, ceramic and clear braces are available privately. The length of treatment will depend on how complicated the problem is, but treatment normally lasts between a year and a half to two years.
Orthodontics can be done on the NHS if there is a clear need for treatment, but there is a long waiting list due to high demand. Your orthodontist would need to apply to the NHS for funding. The NHS use a rating system – the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need – to assess if you’re eligible for NHS treatment. If the NHS does approve the treatment, it will be free for people under the age of eighteen. Private treatment will also be offered where the NHS does not approve the treatment. NHS orthodontic care isn’t usually available for adults, but may be approved on a case-by-case basis. Private treatment is widely available, but expensive. The fee can range from £2000-£6000, depending on how complicated the treatment is.
Your dentist will be happy to advise you on orthodontic treatment and the options available to you.