Orthodontics is the type of dentistry that deals with irregularities in the teeth and jaw; most commonly it is just referred to as teeth straightening. Around 30% of children require orthodontic work at some point, and if we added everybody who wants it for purely cosmetic reasons on top, this figure would be much higher.
Although the end result is clearly visible, orthodontics is not just about a cosmetic fix. There are also many other benefits and reasons to treat that wonky smile.
Dealing with crooked, overcrowded or misaligned teeth has many long-term benefits. The treatment can help to reduce the risk of tooth decay and periodontal disease; it can also improve speech and chewing and work against premature wear, hence contributing to overall healthier mouth. The NHS offers free orthodontic treatment when it is deemed necessary.
Sometimes misaligned teeth and jaw problems trigger headaches or even migraines, and then orthodontic treatment is the only option for a permanent cure. So orthodontics is definitely not just vanity dentistry.
Orthodontics has evolved so much since the 1980s, when pretty much the only option was a wire retainer that could have doubled up as a torture device. It was very visible, impractical and often quite uncomfortable to wear. But now there are plenty of other options to suit every budget and lifestyle requirement.
If you think you would benefit from orthodontic treatment, your first point of call should be your own dentist, as most dental practices have an in-house specialist orthodontist. You can find an orthodontic dentist in Cardiff at the Cathedral Dental Clinic. They offer a full range of orthodontic treatments.
How Long Does It Take?
Orthodontic treatment is usually done in two stages, with the length depending on the individual issues, but most treatments take from 18 months to three years from start to finish. The treatment period, also called the active phase, can take up to 2.5 years depending on the complexity of the treatment required. During this time there is an appointment every 6 to 8 weeks on average, as the braces must be adjusted regularly. Unsupervised wearing of braces can damage your teeth and gums. The active phase is followed by the retention phase, when either fixed or removable retainers are used to hold the teeth in the new position. The retainers must usually be worn for around 12 months. More detail on the treatment can be found here.
Is There a Choice of Braces?
The fixed braces are permanent fixtures and only removed at the end of the treatment period. There are two kinds of fixed braces. The visible ones are fixed to the front surfaces of the teeth, and these are the kind that give teenagers nightmares. However, today there are various choices of colours and materials, so even visible braces don’t have be that noticeable. Lingual braces are placed behind the teeth, so they are invisible.
Removable braces such as Invisalign are also referred to as clear or invisible braces, as some appliances are completely clear, and they can be easily removed for eating and cleaning. However, they are generally worn for at least 22 hours a day for best results.