The most common solution for this condition, known as malocclusion, is braces, which fuse teeth to a wire track that’s tightened incrementally over a period of 18 months or more. During this gradual process visits to the orthodontist are required every four to six weeks, but the solution is permanent – the teeth will not move back.
According to the British Orthodontic Society nearly one million people in the UK started orthodontic treatment last year to make the best of their teeth, gums and smile.
One in three British children has crooked teeth and needs orthodontic treatment to straighten them. Four out of five orthodontics patients are children.
Orthodontic treatment can also be used to fix minor cosmetic problems, with a wide choice of braces, including clear or invisible ones. Some are removable, which you take out at night, to eat a meal or to clean them. Some are fixed and stay in all the time. Braces can be made out of metal, plastic and ceramic.
The most common age to have orthodontic treatment is around 12 or 13, while the patient is still growing. The opportunity for improvement in an adult is more limited and surgery is more likely to be needed.
The first stage of treatment is to assess the state of your teeth and their likely development. This usually involves taking X-rays, making plaster models and taking photographs of your teeth.
Orthodontic treatment uses appliances to correct the position of the teeth. The four main types are:
- Fixed braces are non-removable brace made up of brackets that are glued to each tooth and linked with wires
- Removable braces are usually plastic plates that cover the roof of the mouth and clip on to some teeth; they can only carry out very limited tooth movements
- Functional appliances are a pair of removable plastic braces that are joined together or are designed to interact together and fit on to the upper and lower teeth
- Headgear is not an orthodontic appliance itself, but can be used with other appliances and is usually worn at night
In more severe cases, treatment may involve fixed braces and surgery to move the jaw. This treatment is carried out in hospitals.
By law, only registered specialists can call themselves a specialist orthodontist. To get braces fitted you need to be referred to an orthodontist by your dentist. At Keppel Advanced Dentistry we provide fixed braces only when absolutely necessary, and would rather reduce the level of interference required for a healthy mouth through regular check-ups.