As a specialist orthodontic practice we get to hear a wide range of questions asked by many of our patients, we thought we would collate some of the more interesting questions in a single blog post.
We’d also like to hear what you think, please do feel free to comment…
Is it safe to get braces while having cavities?
The simple answer to this is no. Before you have any type of orthodontic brace your orthodontist will want to ensure that you have good dental health without any tooth decay. This for a couple of reasons.
- Tooth decay can be a sign of poor oral hygiene. If you have fixed braces then you need to ensure your oral hygiene is good to prevent further decay.
- Tooth decay will only get worse if untreated. You will probably have your braces on for anything up to 2 years. In this time tooth decay will almost certainly get worse if left untreated. Treating the decay can be made extremely difficult if you have orthodontic braces fitted.
2. What is the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?
All orthodontists are dentists first. However only 5% of dentists are orthodontists. An orthodontist will be registered with the General Dental Council GDC in the UK as a specialist. An orthodontist has undertaken Masters level training after their initial dental degree. Most specialist orthodontists are also registered with the British Orthodontic Society.
3. Can dental retainers correct slight shifting?
Let’s be very precise here. Strictly speaking a retainer is used AFTER orthodontic treatment to retain your teeth in their new position, a retainer is not active and does not move the teeth anywhere. However many people use the word ‘retainer’ to talk about an active orthodontic appliance. Slight shifting can be corrected with an active orthodontic appliance.
4. How to get orthodontic treatment without metal braces
Modern technology has seen the advent of a range of different orthodontic treatments without metal braces, these include tooth coloured braces (these working exactly the same way as traditional metal braces but are either ceramic or clear) and clear liners such as Invisalign. NHS orthodontic treatments we usually not include tooth coloured braces or clear orthodontics.
5. What is it like having an open bite and then getting braces?
If you have an open bite and then get braces this would usually be with a fixed appliance. An open bite is usually defined by the back teeth meeting but there being a gap at the front. Treatments can be extremely successful but usually more complex and so are often not available at a general dentist, you may find you need to see a specialist orthodontist.
6. How to know if my ortho braces are going well?
One of the best ways to know if your teeth straightening treatment is going well is to ask your orthodontist. During treatment you should have regular appointments, typically every six weeks although sometimes it may be more.
With some of the more modern orthodontic treatments such as Invisalign which use computer assisted design it possible to monitor progress based upon a 3-D computer animated modelling which was undertaken at the beginning of treatment.
Many orthodontists use a tracking system to be able to tell you how far through treatment you are, simply ask each time you go.
7. Should I get braces if I like my smile?
Not all braces are for cosmetic reasons. Sometimes patients find it difficult to eat and chew due to the position of their teeth, braces can help in this situation also.
Sometimes braces can also be used to move teeth to a more convenient location for other treatments such as a dental implant or a dental crown. Moving teeth like this is usually for health benefits making teeth easier to clean and maintain rather than for cosmetic options.
8. How do orthodontists plan a treatment?
Your orthodontist may take impressions at the beginning of treatment, these can then be used to plan treatments in advance. Teeth can be moved on these orthodontic models and final positions calculated.
Modern treatments such as Invisalign also use computer assisted design to plan treatments. Invisalign uses a patented system called a Clincheck, this produces a visualisation of your tooth movement from beginning to end of treatment. It allows you to see what you will look like after your orthodontics and is an excellent adjunct to the orthodontic planning process.
Unfortunately Invisalign is not available as an NHS treatment.
Orthodontists will also use their extensive knowledge and case history to be able to plan treatments. Ask to see previous cases which are similar to yours, a good orthodontist will have a book of before and after photographs which would show patients and how they treatment was planned and executed.
9. How to feel more confident with orthodontic braces?
If you are concerned about having orthodontic treatments don’t speak to your orthodontist and talk about discrete options. Tooth coloured braces or clear braces may often be available.
An alternative is to go completely the other way, many patients are nowadays asking for brightly coloured orthodontics and making them a fashion statement in themselves, very much like brightly coloured glasses!
The choice really is yours, only by having a full discussion with your orthodontist and being completely honest and open about what you want to achieve will ensure you get the best result you.
After all, having orthodontic treatments is often all about confidence in a new smile, so it’s equally important to feel confident throughout the process either by showing off your new braces or by having discreet or invisible options to keep things hidden.
10. How much do braces cost in the UK?
Orthodontic braces typically cost from £1495 for either the top or bottom. Simply considerations and questions to ask are:
- Are all appointments included in this fee?
- Will I have to pay an additional fee if treatment goes on longer than originally estimated?
- Do I have to pay for an initial consultation or is there a free consultation?
- Are retainers included in this free?
- If my braces break is a repair included in this free?
A quick thought about free consultations. Many practices say they offer these but are really just a quick free chat without any detailed clinical investigation. After a consultation you should ensure there is:
- An opportunity for you to have a detailed discussion with orthodontist about your concerns and requirements.
- A full treatment plan with all of your options carefully explained.
- A detailed pricing structure helping you decide which route to smiling confidently is best for you.
Dr. Stefan Abela
BChD, MFDS, RCS Eng, MSc, MORTH RCS Ed, AHEA, FDS Orth RCS Ed
Stefan is a Consultant in Orthodontics at one of the most prestigious London teaching hospitals; Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust.
Stefan is also a specialist in Orthodontics and is registered on the General Dental Council (GDC) specialist list. Stefan qualified as a dental surgeon in 2003 and underwent further training in various specialties including restorative dentistry, paediatric dentistry, oral medicine and complex oral and maxillofacial surgery including the management of facial trauma.