Many research studies have shown the value of an attractive smile both to a person’s own self image, and for making positive first impressions. The improvement in self esteem can not be overestimated in this age of heightened self-awareness. An attractive smile can bring life-long benefits in terms of self confidence, socialising and even career opportunities. In addition to the cosmetic/social advantages of having a beautiful smile, well aligned teeth are easier to clean. Patients who have had orthodontic treatment will gain long term health benefits by maintaining better dental hygiene. Orthodontic treatment is easier than ever. After extensive scientific research and many technological advances, treatment is now shorter, more comfortable, needing fewer visits and less conspicuous than ever before. Orthodontics is now a realistic option for anyone regardless of age or previous dental care. Anyone can benefit from orthodontic treatment.
Orthodontic literally means ‘straight teeth’
Orthodontics is the specilalist type of dentistry which deals with irregularities of the teeth and jaws. Orthodontists are registered specialist dentists who practice orthodontics. They have undertaken specialist post graduate training of at least 3 years and usually 6 years, to gain this specialist status.
Very simply, orthodontic treatment is done by applying gentle forces to teeth and jaws in a very controlled way to improve the alignment and appearance of a patient’s teeth. There are many types of appliances that can be used and there is often a choice of treatments that may be suitable for any given problem.
Teeth move best with very light steady forces. To achieve the best results this process should not be rushed but should be done with several visits and a slowly but surely approach.
The principle goal of orthodontic treatment is to improve the appearance of a patients teeth to create a nice natural smile.
Consultation – Diagnosis and treatment planning
Your first visit is very simple. We need to examine your teeth, your bite and the shape and position of your jaw bones. In most cases this will include digital photos and an x-ray.
Following a complete examination and the taking of records we will be able to carefully explain the orthodontic problems you may have.
Our aim is to make the treatment as closely matched as possible to the outcome you desire and then formulate the best possible treatment plan to achieve this. This should be an enjoyable meeting where we envisage the finished result and plan the treatment.
As a prospective patient you will be fully involved in the decision making process and will be able to make a fully informed decision re your treatment.
The type of brace you need will depend on what type of problem you have. There may be a choice of brace depending on severity of the problem and the goals of treatment.
‘TRAIN TRACK’ BRACES – FIXED APPLIANCES
The most common type of treatment is done with fixed appliances, often known as ‘train track’ braces. These are exceptionally reliable and are the best way to align teeth for most patients. A bracket is glued to each tooth which allows the orthodontist to gently pull or push the teeth around. A very fine wire is tied to the brackets to apply this gentle force. In our practice we use Damon self ligating brackets that apply extremely light forces making these treatments very comfortable, a little quicker and require fewer visits than the older generation of brackets. We also use ‘Tip Edge’ brackets that are also low friction and allow treatment of more severe types of bites.
CERAMIC ‘WHITE’ BRACKETS
The big disadvantage of metal ‘train track’ braces is that they can be seen! White (ceramic) brackets can be used for adult clients, but they do have some minor draw backs. These draw backs can be overcome with good patient motivation and a couple of extra visits. These brackets can still be seen but are much more discreet.
These appliances have become extremely popular in recent years and can certainly help with some simple orthodontic problems. We use a simple 5 stage therapy which can treat minor alignment problems with good cooperation. Patients should be aware that this type of treatment seems to offer the perfect solution with no visible appliance, however there are limitations. Unfortunately the control over the tooth position is much reduced and the results can be disappointing if the expectations are too high or they are not worn properly. This form of treatment can be useful for patients who are unable to tolerate fixed appliance and are aware of the limitations. These appliances are also good for cases with minor relapse following previous orthodontic treatment.
Upper removable appliances are the traditional’ spring’ used very commonly before fixed appliances became available. They can treat very simple alignment problems, but also have sever limitations. Occasionally we use these appliances for young children with simple problems
- Brush your teeth 3 times every day. Please time yourself for 3 minutes and brush every surface of the tooth. Move the brush gently along the gumline using small circular motion. Brush in and around all the brackets and wire of your braces. Be gentle but thorough. You do no need to scrub hard! Don’t forget to clean the inside surfaces next to the tongue.
- Please use the Interdental brush (smaller brush) after you have brushed with the orthodontic toothbrush. This small brush is excellent at getting between the brackets and into any small spaces.
- When flossing, threat the end nearest the cotton, into the bottom of the tooth on the lower teeth and the top of the tooth in the upper teeth, and gently rub up and down each side of the tooth. Don’t snap it down in between the teeth as you may damage the gum. Work in a methodical fashion so that each tooth is flossed.
- Please us a fluoride mouthwash last thing at night, every night.
- The disclosing tablets- the aim of the disclosing tablets is to check how well you are brushing your teeth.
Please read the information leaflet before using the disclosing tablets.
- Brush your teeth as normal
- Chew the tablet in your mouth but do not swallow it.
- Rinse your mouth out with water.
- Look in the mirror. Are there any any pink areas on your teeth? This is the plaque that has been ‘disclosed’ and shows where you need to clean more.
- Brush your teeth again to remove the plaque (pink area).
The wax is designed to relieve any pain caused by the braces rubbing against the cheeks. If you feel your cheeks are sore, pinch off some wax and soften it between your fingers for a few seconds. Then mould the wax over the part of the brace which is causing the problem.
If any of the products run out of your cleaning pack you should be able to buy them in a chemist or you can buy a new pack at the practice for €10.00.
If you have any problems with regards to your braces or if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the practice on (074) 91 29400, Monday to Friday
All Orthodontic patients will need to wear retainers! All orthodontic patients will need to wear retainers after treatment. If you DON’T the teeth could MOVE!
The risk of this movement will get less slowly with time. The position of the teeth will need to be supported while the bone and soft tissue round the teeth remodels to the new position. If the teeth are not held the teeth will ‘spring’ back a little in the first few weeks. It takes up to 9 months for the bone and gums to fully settle with the teeth in the new position. Even after this time the teeth will need to be held to prevent movement, but not quite as much. Ever so slowly, the control can be reduced in most patients until the retainers can be thrown away. This could take several years.
Some patients will have to wear retainers for ever. For growing patients the retainers should be worn in some form until facial growth has finished. In females this could be 18 or 19 years old. In males this could be 20 or 21 years old.
Warning -Teeth move anyway in the late teenage years!
For several reasons the teeth often become more crowded in the late teenage years. This happens in orthodontic patients and in untreated cases. One small reason is the appearance of wisdom teeth at about this age. This may add a slight forward pressure leading to crowding.
More importantly is the tone or activity of the muscles in the lips and face as the face finishes growing. These muscles get stronger at this age and tend to push the teeth slightly further back. This results in an increase in crowding of the front teeth.
Your retainers will help prevent this unwanted tooth movement and will allow this muscular pressure to be applied to the whole arch and avoid the teeth crowding over again.