A Patient's guide to choosing braces by our expert Dr Sunil Hirani

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The guidance below is also available to see on the British Orthodontic Society website. Please take a few minutes to read the guidance given as it will help you to find out what questions you should be asking before starting orthodontic treatment and what to look out for when choosing a clinician to best suit your individual needs.

How do I choose which type of brace to have?

There are many different brace options available to fit in with different lifestyles. You may want something invisible so no one will know you are having treatment or maybe you would prefer something removable. Whatever type of treatment you’re looking at, there is an option for you. When deciding which practice to start your treatment with, you will need to make sure that they are giving you many different brace options. Everybody is different and everyone has different needs and concerns about their teeth. If you are being offered only one type of brace by your dentist/orthodontist then you may want to consider looking at several practices. Each orthodontist/dentist has had different amounts of experience and training so it is important that you find somebody you feel comfortable with.

How long will it take to straighten my teeth?

You may have seen places advertising short-term orthodontics in up to 6 months. Did you know that the average time it takes to straighten your teeth safely is actually 12-18 months? All cases are different and yes there are certain mild cases that can be completed in 6-9 months. Generally with this type of treatment it is only the front 6 teeth that are treated with braces. If you are keen on short-term treatment, it is important that you ask the clinician what result is actually achievable within this time frame so your expectations are fully managed. Short-term orthodontics for most people will only produce a limited change to the teeth and the final result could be compromised. 6 months usually isn’t enough time to move a tooth and its roots into the right place. This usually means that the tooth may be more likely to move back into their original position once you have your braces removed. Lots of planning is involved to get the best result for you and the orthodontist usually has to consider your jaw, lips and facial profile when planning treatment, rushed treatment is not appropriate. Make sure you are comfortable and well informed when choosing to have braces.

What can go wrong with braces?

Teeth are of course part of the human anatomy but unlike other parts of your body, it is possible to have them corrected without the need for surgery. This being said, it is important that you choose a clinician who has carried out the correct training and that you trust to ensure that risks to your teeth are minimised.  There are a number of things that can go wrong with orthodontic treatment which is why this is so important. You should always be advised of these risks before you start your treatment.

The main risks are as follows:

Risk of causing gum recession if your arch is widened.

The way you bite together may be affected.

Treatment without extractions can sometimes increase your over-jet (Make your teeth stick out further).

Once treatment is complete, there is nothing to stop your teeth from relapsing and moving back to their original positions. Your orthodontist will need to provide you with retainers in order to prevent this from happening. Here at SmileLux we provide two types of retainers to each patient so their teeth are locked in this position. There is a higher risk of this happening when teeth are moved too quickly and treatment is rushed.

What should I expect from my orthodontist or dentist?

A diligent orthodontist or dentist will always:

  • Ask you about your concerns.
  • Outline all the different treatment options and their risks and benefits.
  • Explain about the different types of braces.
  • Estimate how long the treatment should take.
  • Explain about retainers at the start of treatment. You should be told that retainers are to be worn for life to ensure that your teeth do not move as you get older.
  • Explain how likely the teeth are to stay in their new position at the end of treatment (that is the stability of the final result).
  • At the start, explain what other procedures may be required as part of the treatment.
  • Give you thinking time to decide if you want to go ahead.
  • Give you a written treatment plan and fee estimate (if appropriate).
  • Tell you how much orthodontic training they have had.

What questions should I ask my orthodontist or dentist?

  • How long will the treatment take?
  • Will the end result be stable?
  • Will I have to wear retainers? If so for how long?
  • What are the risks of treatment?
  • How much will the treatment cost in total? Does this include any breakages and retainers?
  • Will I be treated by an orthodontist/dentist or an orthodontic therapist?

To find an orthodontist near you follow this link to the main site>

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