Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need braces?
Usually it is because the teeth are unsightly, overcrowded or bite wrongly. Braces can also help prominent or spaced (gappy) teeth, or teeth that grow in the wrong place.
Why have I been referred by my dentist?
Your dentist is trained to look for orthodontic problems, which don't just include crooked teeth, but also the development of the teeth and how they meet.
Does my dentist have to refer me?
No, for private treatment you can refer yourself, either ring us or fill in your details on the contact page. However, we strongly advise you are registered with a general dentist. The orthodontist will keep your dentist informed about your treatment and any work they may need to do (like extractions or fillings). Click for private treatment
Can't my dentist do the work?
An orthodontic specialist has received at least 3 years comprehensive training in orthodontics alone and is best placed to advise on and treat a whole range of problems. A general dentist will refer work which is beyond his/her ability and training.
I don't want braces, do I have to have them?
In general, it is up to you to decide. However, the orthodontist will advise you about any risks that may occur if you don't have a brace.
How long does treatment take?
Orthodontic treatment times vary depending on the severity of the malocclusion being treated.
With an average treatment lasting approximately 18 months. This time will vary according to individual treatment plans. The overall time will be influenced by breakages and missed appointments.
Following active treatment there will be an indefinite period of retention.
You should continue to see your usual dentist on a regular basis during orthodontic treatment.
Do I need to have my regular dental check up's?
Your orthodontist will not carry out routine dental care. It is important to keep your mouth healthy during treatment by seeing your dentist regularly.
What age should I have braces?
The usual age is once the adult teeth have come through, roughly the age of 12. However we do treat younger patients if there is a need and a clear benefit. Braces can be used on adults of all ages, there is no upper age limit! Click for private treatment
Can I choose what sort of braces I have?
The orthodontist will advise you which type of brace will work best for you. If you have a preference please discuss this at your initial visit, as we always try to tailor treatment to suit you.
Can I have colours on my brace?
Standard fixed braces use small elastics to hold the wire in. These can be plain or coloured and are changed every visit.
Can I have less noticeable braces?
Tooth coloured braces can be used to make the brace less noticeable. We also use Invisalign and braces on the back (lingual) of the teeth. Click for private treatment
I have been refused treatment on the NHS. Can I still have braces?
If your teeth are not severe enough for NHS treatment you can be treated privately if your orthodontist feels you will get some benefit. Click for private treatment
How long does treatment take?
This depends on your problem and can be affected by the type of brace you have. Most treatments take between 6 and 20 months. You will be given a guide to treatment time at your initial visit.
Are there any risks of treatment?
Common problems include damage to the teeth if you don't clean them properly or look after your diet. Tooth roots also get slightly shorter during treatment, but usually it is almost undetectable. Very occasionally teeth may become non vital and may require a root canal treatment. Other risks will be discussed if they apply to you.
Root resorption and loss of tooth vitality
Orthodontic treatment may cause root shortening. This usually causes no long term problems, however, if it is severe treatment may be needed to be stopped early. Very occasionally teeth may become non vital and may require a root canal treatment. This is most likely when teeth have been previously traumatised or have very large restorations.
Orthodontic treatment may cause some gum recession. This is less likely if there are good oral hygiene measures in place and healthy gums at the start of treatment.
What can I eat / drink?
There are three main types of food which can cause problems with orthodontic appliances.
These are hard foods, sticky foods and foods high in sugar content.
Hard and sticky foods can break the appliance or bend the wires and prevent tooth movement.
Foods high in sugar content encourage germs to build around the appliance leading to tooth decay. This can lead to permanent unsightly marks (demineralisation) on the teeth. Fizzy drinks and fruit juices may also cause marks to develop on the teeth. All these types of food and drink should be avoided.
Why must I wear elastic bands?
You may be asked to wear elastics to help tooth movement. Failure to wear these as prescribed will prolong your treatment.
What about emergencies?
If your appliance breaks, please contact us as soon as possible to have it repaired in order to prevent unwanted tooth movement.
How often will I need to see the orthodontist?
Once your treatment starts you will usually visit every 6-10 weeks. You will need to attend regularly to have your brace adjusted. Missed appointments are very disruptive to your treatment and may increase the overall treatment time. Good cooperation will result in your treatment being completed in the shortest time possible. If you cannot attend, please let us know as soon as possible so we can reschedule.
Can I still play contact sports?
Yes, but it is essential you wear a mouthguard for training and matches. This should be custom made by your dentist or orthodontist, and should be made to fit over fixed braces. Click for gumshields
I sing or play a wind instrument, how will this affect me?
With some practice you will be able to carry on as before. Please talk to your orthodontist and your music teacher about this. Click for wind instruments
What is a retainer?
Retainers are used after your teeth are straight to hold them in the new position. Without retainers your teeth would move again. They are usually removable clear gum shields, worn at night. Sometimes fixed retainers are used on a semi-permanent basis. Click for retainers
How long do I need to wear retainers for?
For as long as you want your teeth to remain straight. Your teeth will move a little all through your life. Keep wearing the retainers if you want to be sure of keeping straight teeth.