What does orthodontic treatment involve?

Treatment starts with the initial diagnosis by the orthodontist. He or she will examine your teeth before recommending a course of treatment. This visit will include x-rays and the taking of an ‘impression’ of your teeth. This impression enables him/her to get a precise idea of the position of your teeth and the amount of correction needed.

The orthodontist will make a mould of your teeth in which you will be asked to bite down into ‘dental putty’. This leaves an impression of your teeth which is then used to produce a cast. The cast will be made from plaster and is used as a blueprint for the brace.

The treatment itself takes two stages:

  • The fitting of a brace
  • The retainer

A brace is comprised of a series of individual ‘brackets’ which fasten to each tooth. These look like small handles and contain the ‘archwire’: this is a special wire that runs through the brace and helps to move the teeth. This wire is held in place either by elastic or metal bands.

The brace procedure involves the following:

  1. The orthodontist applies a special etching material to your teeth which helps to secure each bracket to each tooth.
  2. He or she will fasten these brackets to your teeth using dental cement. He/she will then use a special lamp, which emits a light beam that will harden the cement.
  3. The archwire is threaded between these brackets and secured via metal bands or coloured rubber ones.

The orthodontist will adjust the brace at intervals which helps with moving the teeth into the desired position. He/she will adjust the brace, remove the coloured metal bands and replace the archwire. This is followed by him/her fixing new elastic bands to the brackets.

There is another type of brace which is made of a clear, transparent material that is almost invisible to the naked eye. These ‘invisible braces’ or ‘Invisalign’ are becoming a popular choice for people who don’t want the wire-metal variety.

The brace is designed to be worn for a set period of time. Once this has passed the orthodontist will replace this with a ‘retainer’. A retainer takes the form of an acrylic plate with metal hooks attached which fit around the teeth. The plate fits neatly into your palate and the hooks will attach themselves to your teeth.

The retainer can be removed as and when necessary.

The orthodontist will advise you as to how long you have to wear this retainer and how to look after it.

You will have a series of follow up visits, every 4 to 6 weeks, in which your brace will be adjusted.

This is more commonly known as the ’active’ phase.

Learn more about orthodontics….

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