Before you ask about dental braces…..

Anyone who has a crooked tooth or some crooked teeth might see this as a problem, regardless of their age. 

It’s about self-esteem and having the freedom to offer your brightest smile to the world.

Your dentist will keep a careful eye on the development of your teeth, from the moment your lifetime teeth begin to replace your baby teeth, and if crooked teeth appear, then childhood is the best time for corrective measures – but it’s not the only time. 

Children and Teenagers

Children’s teeth are easier to work with than an adult’s because they are more flexible.  Imperfections, stains, fractures and cracks can also be dealt with.  Teenagers are not always impressed by the prospect of braces, but modern day braces are so much less conspicuous and the long term prospect of having straight teeth is a great incentive.

Adults

Don’t be deterred from having your teeth straightened.  You can have this at any age, provided you have reasonably strong gums and teeth.  An initial check on the current health of your teeth and gums will help your dentist determine your suitability for treatment.  Why should this be necessary?  Well, having braces places extra pressure on the gums, so you need them to be healthy enough to ‘bounce back’.  

It’s not only about straight teeth

Of course the primary objective of wearing braces is to have straight teeth, but braces achieve more than this.  Your examination by your dentist looks for a range of issues and asks if you ever have pain in your jaw, bleeding gums…. exposes loose or sharp teeth, or gaps or impacted teeth.  Your dentist will even check for a healthy ‘bite’.   

Treatment for your bite

When you close your teeth, they should meet but not grind.  There should be no gaps between your upper and lower rows of teeth. Surprisingly, not having a good bite can lead to problems such as headaches, speaking and chewing as time goes on.  These unnoticed problems can mean further treatment is necessary.  It’s more than just making a decision about straightening.

Orthodontist or Dentist?

Orthodontists are specially trained in jawbone function and dental movement.  They are also qualified dentists, so they are the perfect choice for prescribing, fitting and monitoring braces.

First Time Consultations

The first time you visit an orthodontist, it is usually free.  This means you can visit more than one professional if you have any doubts whatsoever.  Braces are long term and cannot be rushed.  There are follow up appointments, visits for adjustments and generally keeping in contact with your orthodontist over time.  You will probably want to make sure you feel relaxed and confident in the person you choose.

Accepting expert advice

It is a hard fact that your orthodontist and your dentist will not always say what you want and hope to hear.  If the most cosmetic option isn’t for you, then your dentist must tell you so.  Rejecting professional advice can lead to longer term problems down the line, which everyone wants to avoid.  

Bear in mind that your dentist will do whatever necessary to ensure your mouth is healthy, your teeth are straight and you have that confident smile.  

Cost

There’s no doubt that braces can be costly, but there are different payment schemes which help.  Cost will depend on where you are, whether there are complications and how old the patient is.  Invisible aligners or braces are more expensive because they are more complex to make than metal braces.  Listen to advice from your dentist about what is best for you. 

Length of treatment

Your dentist will explain how long your treatment will last.  Typically,  braces can be worn for around 2 years.  There are shorter treatments, but these rely on very robust and healthy teeth, and can be painful.  They usually involve minor surgery to the jaw and align in around 6 months.  Your dentist will encourage you to take the longer term to avoid risks and side effects.

Take care not to have to change your dentist during the period of your treatment, because this can be complicated.  You will be asked to sign a contract, the end of which would have to be negotiated.  You then have to accustom yourself to a different specialist and the contract may not be the same.  You may even have to begin again.

Pain and Discomfort

Whilst the fitting itself doesn’t cause pain, the pressure against your teeth which is necessary in order to move them, is not pain free.  You may also for the first week or two experience some soreness as your mouth adjusts to having plastic or metal close to the soft tissue.It is important to be patient and push through the first uncomfortable weeks.  After a few months, you may not even notice your braces.

Remember that you can take over the counter painkillers and that rinsing your mouth several times a day with salt water helps to relieve pressure as well as pain.  You will adapt to how you have to chew and speak, too.

Adjusting

Your orthodontist will support you to get through the first stages, so remember to keep in touch, ask questions and raise concerns, identifying any changes to your mouth. 

Ensure  your teeth and mouth are as healthy as possible.  Use your regular toothbrush and toothpaste as well as floss.  Flossing takes a little extra time as you’ll need to be more precise about it, taking more care so as to avoid exerting pressure.  If your braces are shiny and clean, you’ve done a good job.  Just remember to let your dentist know if you can feel, see or sense any changes.

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