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Smile Perfections

Smile Perfections Dental & Cosmetic Clinic

  • 34 Harborough Road
  • Leicester
  • LE2 4LA
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ORTHODONTIST LEICESTER – Frequently Asked Questions

What is an orthodontist, and how are they different from a general dentist?

An orthodontist is a dental specialist who focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities, particularly those related to the alignment of teeth and jaws. Unlike general dentists, orthodontists receive additional training and education to specialise in orthodontics.

Education and Training

Specialised Qualifications

To become an orthodontist, individuals must complete a five-year dental degree, followed by an additional two to three years of specialised orthodontic training and education. This extensive training equips orthodontists with advanced knowledge and skills in the field of orthodontics, enabling them to diagnose and treat complex dental and facial irregularities effectively.

Areas of Expertise

Malocclusions and Bite Problems

Orthodontists are experts in identifying and treating malocclusions, which are misalignments of the teeth and jaws. They specialise in correcting bite problems, such as overbites, underbites, crossbites, and open bites, often using braces, clear aligners, or other orthodontic appliances. By realigning the teeth and jaws, orthodontists can improve both the aesthetic appearance and functional aspects of a patient’s bite.

Treatment Options

Comprehensive Orthodontic Care

Orthodontists offer a wide range of treatment options tailored to the specific needs of each patient. In addition to traditional metal braces, they provide clear aligners (e.g., Invisalign), lingual braces (braces placed behind the teeth), and other advanced orthodontic appliances. Orthodontists are also skilled in managing complex cases that may involve jaw surgery or interdisciplinary collaboration with other dental specialists.

While general dentists can provide basic orthodontic treatments like space maintainers or simple tooth movements, orthodontists are uniquely qualified to handle more complex cases and deliver comprehensive orthodontic care. Their specialised training allows them to develop personalised treatment plans and achieve optimal results for their patients’ dental and facial aesthetics, as well as functional needs.

At what age should my child first visit an orthodontist?

Early orthodontic evaluation and treatment can play a crucial role in your child’s dental health and development. The British Orthodontic Society recommends that all children should have their first orthodontic assessment by the age of 7.

Early Assessment Benefits

Identifying Potential Issues

An early orthodontic assessment allows the orthodontist to evaluate your child’s developing teeth and jaws, identifying potential issues before they become more severe. This proactive approach can help detect problems such as crowding, bite irregularities, or jaw growth abnormalities, enabling timely intervention and treatment planning.

Treatment Timing

Interceptive Treatment

In some cases, the orthodontist may recommend interceptive treatment, also known as Phase I treatment, for children between the ages of 7 and 10. This early intervention can address specific problems, such as creating space for erupting permanent teeth, correcting harmful habits (like thumb-sucking), or guiding jaw growth. By addressing these issues early, the need for more extensive treatment later on may be reduced or even eliminated.

Monitoring Growth and Development

Regular Check-ups

Even if no immediate treatment is needed, the orthodontist will continue to monitor your child’s dental and facial growth during regular check-ups. This allows them to assess the development of the teeth, jaws, and facial structures, and determine the optimal time for any necessary orthodontic treatment, such as braces or aligners.

Comprehensive Treatment

Optimal Timing

For most children, the ideal time for comprehensive orthodontic treatment, involving braces or clear aligners, is typically between the ages of 11 and 14. During this period, the permanent teeth have erupted, and the jaws are still growing, making it easier to guide the teeth into their proper positions and achieve optimal results.

By following the recommended guidelines for early orthodontic assessments and treatment, you can help ensure your child’s dental health and development are on the right track. Regular visits to the orthodontist can help identify and address any potential issues promptly, leading to a healthy, functional, and aesthetically pleasing smile for your child.

Are orthodontic treatments just for cosmetic purposes, or do they offer other benefits?

While orthodontic treatments can significantly improve the aesthetic appearance of your smile, they offer much more than just cosmetic benefits. Properly aligned teeth and jaws can have a profound impact on your overall oral health, function, and well-being.

Oral Health Benefits

Easier Cleaning and Maintenance

Properly aligned teeth are easier to clean and maintain, reducing the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental issues. When teeth are crowded or misaligned, it becomes challenging to remove plaque and food debris effectively, leading to an increased risk of dental problems.

Functional Benefits

Improved Bite and Chewing Ability

Orthodontic treatment can correct bite irregularities, such as overbites, underbites, or crossbites, allowing you to chew and bite more efficiently. A well-aligned bite distributes the chewing forces evenly across all teeth, preventing excessive wear or damage to specific teeth.

Speech and Breathing Benefits

Enhanced Speech Clarity

Misaligned teeth and jaws can affect speech clarity, leading to difficulties in pronouncing certain sounds. Orthodontic treatment can improve the positioning of the teeth and jaws, facilitating clearer speech and communication.

Better Breathing

In some cases, orthodontic treatment can help alleviate breathing problems caused by jaw misalignment or narrow dental arches, improving overall respiratory function and quality of life.

Long-Term Benefits

Prevention of Future Dental Issues

By correcting misalignments and bite problems early on, orthodontic treatment can prevent more serious dental issues from developing in the future. This includes reducing the risk of tooth loss, gum disease, and excessive wear on the teeth, potentially saving you from costly and complex dental treatments down the line.

While the cosmetic benefits of orthodontic treatment are undeniable, the underlying functional and health advantages should not be overlooked. A properly aligned smile not only boosts confidence but also contributes to overall oral health, improved biting and chewing abilities, clearer speech, and a reduced risk of future dental problems.

What are the different types of braces available, and how do they differ?

Orthodontic treatment has come a long way, and patients now have access to a variety of brace options to suit their individual needs and preferences. While all braces serve the same purpose of aligning teeth and correcting bite issues, they differ in their appearance, materials, and functionality.

Traditional Metal Braces

Tried-and-Tested Option

Metal braces are the most traditional and widely used type of orthodontic appliance. They consist of metal brackets attached to the front of the teeth, connected by an archwire and held in place with elastic ties or metal ligatures. Metal braces are durable, effective, and can handle even the most complex orthodontic cases.

Clear or Ceramic Braces

Discreet Appearance

Clear or ceramic braces are an aesthetic alternative to traditional metal braces. The brackets are made of a tooth-coloured or clear ceramic material, blending in with the natural colour of your teeth and providing a more discreet appearance. These braces are an excellent option for adults or those concerned about the visibility of their orthodontic treatment.

Lingual Braces

Hidden from View

Lingual braces are placed on the inside (tongue side) of the teeth, making them virtually invisible from the outside. This type of brace is a popular choice for patients who prefer a more discreet treatment option. However, lingual braces can be more challenging to clean and may cause initial speech difficulties.

Self-Ligating Braces

Efficient Tooth Movement

Self-ligating braces use built-in clips or doors instead of elastic ties to secure the archwire in place. This design allows for more efficient tooth movement and may require fewer adjustments compared to traditional braces. Self-ligating braces can come in both metal and clear varieties.

Clear Aligners

Removable and Discreet

Clear aligners, such as Invisalign, are a popular alternative to traditional braces. They consist of a series of custom-made, clear plastic trays that gradually shift the teeth into their desired positions. Clear aligners are virtually invisible, removable for eating and cleaning, and often preferred by adults seeking a more discreet orthodontic treatment option.

Each type of brace has its own advantages and considerations, and your orthodontist will help you choose the option that best suits your specific needs, lifestyle, and personal preferences. Regardless of the type, all braces aim to provide you with a functional, healthy, and attractive smile.

Are clear aligners (e.g., Invisalign) an option for me or my child?

Clear aligners, such as Invisalign, have become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional braces, offering a discreet and convenient way to straighten teeth. However, they are not suitable for everyone or every orthodontic case.

Age Considerations

Suitability for Children and Adults

Clear aligners can be an option for both children and adults, provided their teeth and jaws have reached the appropriate developmental stage. In children, clear aligners are typically recommended for those with permanent teeth and whose jaw growth has slowed down, usually around age 11 or older. For adults, clear aligners can be an excellent choice as they are virtually invisible and allow for a more discreet orthodontic treatment experience.

Complexity of Orthodontic Issues

Appropriate for Mild to Moderate Cases

Clear aligners are most effective for mild to moderate orthodontic cases, such as correcting crowding, spacing issues, or mild bite problems. However, for more complex cases involving severe misalignments, significant jaw discrepancies, or the need for significant tooth movement, traditional braces may be the more appropriate treatment option. Your orthodontist will evaluate your specific dental condition and determine if clear aligners can achieve the desired results.

Patient Compliance

Commitment to Wear Schedule

The success of clear aligner treatment relies heavily on patient compliance. Unlike fixed braces, clear aligners are removable, and patients must consistently wear them for the recommended 20-22 hours per day. Failure to follow the prescribed wear schedule can prolong treatment time or compromise the desired outcome. Therefore, clear aligners may not be the ideal choice for individuals who struggle with compliance or have a higher risk of losing or misplacing the aligners.

Oral Hygiene Considerations

Easy Cleaning and Maintenance

One of the advantages of clear aligners is that they are removable, making it easier to maintain good oral hygiene during treatment. Patients can remove the aligners for brushing, flossing, and eating, reducing the risk of plaque buildup and staining that can occur with fixed braces.

Your orthodontist will carefully evaluate your specific case and provide guidance on whether clear aligners are a suitable option for you or your child. It’s essential to follow their recommendations and be committed to the treatment process to achieve the best possible results with clear aligners.

How long do orthodontic treatments typically take?

The duration of orthodontic treatment can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the complexity of the case, the type of appliance used, and individual patient response to treatment. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, understanding the typical treatment timelines can help you plan and set realistic expectations.

Case Complexity

Mild to Moderate Cases

For mild to moderate orthodontic cases, such as correcting minor crowding or spacing issues, treatment times can range from 12 to 18 months. These cases generally involve less extensive tooth movement and may require fewer adjustments or follow-up visits.

Complex Cases

Severe Misalignments and Jaw Discrepancies

More complex orthodontic cases, involving significant tooth misalignment, severe bite issues, or jaw discrepancies, often require longer treatment times. These cases may take anywhere from 18 months to 3 years, or even longer in some instances. The duration is determined by the extent of tooth movement needed and the potential need for additional procedures, such as jaw surgery or tooth extractions.

Treatment Type

Traditional Braces vs. Clear Aligners

The type of orthodontic appliance used can also influence treatment duration. Traditional metal braces tend to be more efficient in complex cases, potentially shortening treatment times compared to clear aligner systems like Invisalign. However, clear aligners may be suitable for milder cases and offer a more discreet treatment option.

Individual Factors

Compliance, Growth, and Biological Response

Individual factors, such as patient compliance with wearing instructions (for removable appliances), growth patterns (especially in children and adolescents), and the biological response to treatment, can also impact the overall treatment duration. Patients who follow their orthodontist’s instructions and attend regular appointments typically achieve the desired results within the expected timeframe.

While orthodontic treatment can seem like a long journey, it’s essential to remember that the end result is a beautiful, healthy, and functional smile that can last a lifetime. Your orthodontist will provide you with a personalised treatment plan and an estimated timeline based on your specific needs and goals.

What is the process of getting braces or other orthodontic appliances?

Getting braces or any other orthodontic appliance involves a series of steps designed to ensure the best possible treatment outcome. Understanding the process can help you feel more prepared and comfortable throughout your orthodontic journey.

Initial Consultation

Evaluation and Treatment Planning

The first step is to schedule an initial consultation with your orthodontist. During this appointment, the orthodontist will conduct a thorough examination, which may include X-rays, photographs, and impressions or digital scans of your teeth. This evaluation helps determine the specific orthodontic issues and the most appropriate treatment plan for your needs.

Treatment Options

Choosing the Right Appliance

Based on the evaluation, your orthodontist will discuss the various treatment options available, such as traditional metal braces, clear ceramic braces, lingual braces (placed behind the teeth), or clear aligners like Invisalign. They will explain the pros and cons of each option, helping you make an informed decision that aligns with your aesthetic preferences, lifestyle, and treatment goals.

Appliance Placement

Customised Fitting

If you choose to proceed with braces, the next step involves the placement of the orthodontic appliance. For traditional braces, brackets are bonded to your teeth, and an archwire is threaded through them. For clear aligners, a series of custom-made, clear plastic trays are fabricated based on precise digital impressions or scans of your teeth.

Adjustments and Follow-up Visits

Monitoring Progress

Regular follow-up visits with your orthodontist are essential to monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your braces or aligners. These appointments typically occur every 4-8 weeks, depending on your specific treatment plan. During these visits, your orthodontist will make adjustments to the appliance to ensure your teeth are moving in the desired direction.

Treatment Duration

Achieving Your Desired Smile

The length of treatment can vary depending on the complexity of your case and your individual response to the orthodontic appliance. Most treatments typically last between 12 and 24 months, but more complex cases may require a longer duration. Your orthodontist will provide you with an estimated treatment time during your initial consultation.

Throughout the process, your orthodontist and their team will guide you every step of the way, ensuring your comfort and addressing any concerns you may have. By following their instructions and maintaining good oral hygiene, you can look forward to achieving a beautiful, healthy, and functional smile at the end of your orthodontic treatment.

Can orthodontic treatments help with jaw alignment issues or bite problems?

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Is it possible to undergo orthodontic treatment as an adult?

Absolutely! Orthodontic treatment is not limited to children and teenagers. With the increasing demand for straighter smiles and improved dental health, more and more adults are seeking orthodontic care to achieve their desired results.

Ideal Time for Treatment

No Age Limit

There is no specific age limit for receiving orthodontic treatment. As long as your teeth and gums are healthy, you can benefit from braces or clear aligners at any age. In fact, many orthodontists report an increasing number of adult patients seeking treatment to improve their overall oral health, function, and aesthetics.

Reasons for Adult Orthodontics

Improved Self-Confidence and Oral Health

Adults may pursue orthodontic treatment for various reasons, including:

– Enhancing their appearance and boosting self-confidence with a straighter, more attractive smile.
– Correcting bite issues or misalignments that can lead to dental problems, such as tooth wear, gum disease, or difficulty chewing.
– Addressing teeth that have shifted over time due to aging, tooth loss, or other factors.

Treatment Options

Discreet and Convenient Choices

Adults often prefer more discreet orthodontic options, such as clear aligners (e.g., Invisalign) or ceramic braces that blend in with their natural tooth colour. These options can address misalignments while maintaining a professional appearance during treatment. Additionally, some orthodontic appliances are designed specifically for adult patients, taking into account their unique dental needs and lifestyle factors.

Commitment and Compliance

Dedication to the Process

While orthodontic treatment for adults is possible, it requires a strong commitment and dedication to the process. Adults need to follow their orthodontist’s instructions carefully, maintain excellent oral hygiene, and attend regular follow-up appointments. Compliance with these guidelines is essential for successful treatment and achieving the desired outcome.

With advancements in orthodontic technology and a growing understanding of the importance of a healthy, functional smile, more adults are embracing the benefits of orthodontic treatment. By working closely with an experienced orthodontist, adults can achieve their dream smile while improving their overall oral health and confidence.

How do I care for my braces or aligners to ensure optimal results?

Proper care and maintenance of your orthodontic appliances are crucial for achieving the best possible treatment outcomes. Whether you have traditional braces or clear aligners, following your orthodontist’s instructions and maintaining good oral hygiene habits can help ensure a successful treatment process.

Oral Hygiene Routine

Thorough Brushing and Flossing

Maintaining excellent oral hygiene is essential during orthodontic treatment. With braces, it’s important to brush thoroughly after every meal, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Flossing regularly and using interdental brushes or oral irrigators can help remove food particles and plaque from hard-to-reach areas around the braces.

Diet Considerations

Avoiding Certain Foods

While wearing braces, you’ll need to be mindful of your diet. Avoid sticky, chewy, or hard foods that can damage or dislodge the brackets or wires. Examples include caramel, gummy candies, popcorn, and hard nuts or crusty bread. Your orthodontist will provide you with a list of foods to avoid or consume with caution.

Aligner Care

Proper Handling and Cleaning

If you’re wearing clear aligners, it’s crucial to remove them before eating or drinking anything other than water. Always handle your aligners carefully and store them in their protective case when not in use. Clean your aligners regularly with a soft-bristled toothbrush and mild soap or special aligner cleaning solutions recommended by your orthodontist.

Dental Appointments

Regular Check-ups and Adjustments

Attending your scheduled orthodontic appointments is essential for the success of your treatment. During these visits, your orthodontist will make necessary adjustments to your braces or provide new sets of aligners, ensuring your teeth are moving in the desired direction. These appointments also allow your orthodontist to monitor your progress and address any concerns or issues that may arise.

Handling Emergencies

Dealing with Discomfort or Loose Appliances

While orthodontic treatment is generally safe and comfortable, you may occasionally experience minor discomfort or have a loose bracket or wire. Your orthodontist will provide guidance on how to handle such situations, including using orthodontic wax to alleviate discomfort or scheduling an emergency appointment if necessary.

By following your orthodontist’s instructions, maintaining excellent oral hygiene, and being mindful of your diet and appliance care, you can ensure a smooth and successful orthodontic treatment journey, ultimately leading to a beautiful, healthy, and well-aligned smile.

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