What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of problems in alignment of teeth and jaws.
Orthodontics will straighten crooked teeth. The most common method to correct the position of teeth and establish a functional bite (occlusion) is through the use of braces.
Conventional braces are made of stainless steel and are still the most commonly used appliance today. Recent demands for less noticeable braces have led to the development of clear and ceramic ‘tooth coloured’ braces which provide the same high quality treatment.
“Invisible aligners” can also be used to straighten the teeth without any braces. Tooth movement is achieved with a series of clear ‘mouthguard’ type of aligners.
The Stages of How Teeth are Moved
Brace Stage 1 – Level & Alignment
Most of the visible changes occur quickly during this stage. Teeth are brought into alignment by archwires that are highly flexible and gentle in action. Progressively, archwires are fully tied into brackets during this phase. Appointment intervals during this time may be extended up to 8 weeks as these ‘high tech’ wires continue to act reliably over these longer intervals.
Brace Stage 2 – Bite Correction & Space Closure
A slower stage in which stiffer stainless steel archwires are usually in place and your bite correction is achieved by the use of intra-oral elastics and power chains. Good compliance is essential to keep your treatment progressing and appointments are usually scheduled every 4-6 weeks. The configuration of elastic wear may be changed to reflect the changes occurring in your bite.
Brace Stage 3 – Detailing & Finishing
Individual tooth position is fine tuned to produce a highly aesthetic smile and functional bite. Minor movements are often required by placing specific bends in the archwires during detailing. Elastic wear will be continued during this stage and the wires may be changed to prepare the bite for the eventual removal of your braces.
Brace Stage 4 – Retention & Retainers
The most important part of your treatment is to maintain the result. As a general tendency, most teeth tend to crowd and overlap as we age. The ONLY method to prevent this occurrence is meticulous and fastidious retainer wear. Initially, full time wear is required for 6-12 months. Following that period, it is necessary to continue your retainer wear every night for a further 6-12 months.
Finally, wear is reduced to a few nights per week for fortnight, however, if you never want future crowding, a degree of retainer wear will be necessary for the long term.
Fixed wires (bonded retainers) may be placed onto the inside of your 6 front teeth upper and lower.