Teeth can cause all sorts of problems especially when they are coming through. They can be very crowded, get stuck between other teeth, be missing altogether or be in the wrong place.

Straight teeth look great and help you smile with confidence. Orthodontics can also improve function and make cleaning easier. This helps keep your teeth and gums healthy for life, provided you look after them.

Your co-operation plays a key role in orthodontics and will determine the success of your treatment. This fact sheet will help to explain the different types of braces, how they should be worn, and how to look after them. This will ensure you gain the best possible result from orthodontic treatment.

Removable braces

A removable brace is custom made by an orthodontic technician to fit your mouth exactly. The orthodontist will design your brace in order to achieve the desired tooth movement.

Functional braces

There are many different types of functional braces. The one we use most often is called a twin block. The brace is removable with an upper and a lower block that fit together like twins! It is specially made by a technician to fit your mouth. The twin-block is designed to hold the lower jaw forwards. This moves the lower jaw forwards a little and also pulls the upper teeth back, helping to correct your bite and produce the best possible facial appearance. It is one of the fastest and most effective methods to correct receding jaws, goofy teeth or excess overjet. Both parts must be worn together in the correct position or the brace will not work.

Wearing your removable/functional brace

The treatment time will depend on the problem you have and how well you wear your brace. If instructions are followed properly, treatment can progress smoothly and quickly. Unless otherwise instructed the brace should be worn full time, with the exception of rough contact sports, swimming or cleaning, where it is advisable to remove the brace for the duration only. We will show you how to insert and remove the brace in a way to prevent damage. You must insure it is correctly in place or the brace will not work. Discomfort after fitting and adjustments is expected and talking with the brace may be difficult at first.

Perseverance and patience is required when becoming accustomed to the brace. You should clean the brace with a toothbrush at least twice a day and a disinfectant can be used as necessary. When not wearing the brace place it in the box provided to prevent damage. If discomfort is persistent or if you lose or break your brace, you should contact us for assistance.

Fixed appliances

Fixed braces are not removable and should only be removed by your orthodontist. Brackets are cemented onto each individual tooth which are then connected to each other using a thin metal wire, called an archwire. The wire is held in place with small elastic rings. Elastic rings come in a variety of colours to customise your brace. The wires are adjusted at regular intervals to straighten the teeth and correct the bite. As the brace cannot be removed, it acts full-time, and so it is very effective. Fixed braces are very good at achieving fine detail, and making the smile look really perfect!

Wearing a fixed brace

Fitting your braces will not hurt! They are simply glued to the teeth. For the first 4-5 days after your appliances have been fitted, and for a day or two after each time they are adjusted, you may experience some discomfort and slight toothache. Your teeth may feel loose and quite tender. Stick to a softer diet for the first few days.

Once the brace is fitted you will need to spend more time cleaning your teeth. We will demonstrate good brushing and then it is up to you to maintain a high standard of brushing. Neglect will cause swelling and bleeding of your gums, tooth decay and marking/staining of the teeth around the brackets. The orthodontist will remove your braces before treatment is complete if your oral hygiene is poor. If you break the brace this is likely to increase the length of treatment. You will need an extra visit to have the brace repaired, which will involve you and your orthodontist additional time. We will recommend that you totally avoid certain foods during treatment (apples, raw carrots, crusty bread rolls, hard and chewy sweets, nuts etc.) to avoid damage to your teeth and your braces.

Risks of treatment

As with most types of treatment problems can sometimes arise and you should be aware of them;

Decalcification and staining; this can occur if teeth are not cleaned properly and plaque is allowed to build up around the braces. The marks left behind will be permanent, and will not go away. You must therefore follow instructions and maintain a high standard of brushing during treatment.

Root resorption; when braces are used to move teeth the roots can become shortened or blunted. It is rare for this to cause you a problem, but you should be aware that it can occur.

Unwanted tooth movement; Teeth move through-out life and so to prevent unwanted tooth movement after treatment, you will be given retainers to keep them in their new position. Retainers must be worn as instructed by your orthodontist to avoid relapse Teeth do not always move accordingly to plan; this may lengthen your estimated treatment time.

It is important that you have realistic expectations of treatment; we will do our best to give you a perfect smile that you will be proud to show off. However, we have to work with what you already have in terms of your jaw, tooth shape, and size.

Commitment to treatment

Orthodontic treatment can take up to 2 years (sometimes longer) once treatment has started it should be completed, otherwise you may end up worse off, especially if teeth have been extracted. You need to be sure you can commit to completing treatment.

In addition you will need to;

Remember during orthodontic treatment to attend regular dental check-ups with your usual dentist.