Orthodontics Treatments

Orthodontics Treatments

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of problems in the alignment of teeth and jaws. The technical term for these problems is malocclusion, which literally means bad bite. Orthodontic treatment involves the design and use of corrective appliances (such as braces, plates, headgears and functional appliances) to bring the teeth and jaws into proper alignment.

Why straighten teeth ?

People have orthodontic treatment to improve the appearance, health and function of their teeth. With good oral hygiene and regular dental care, your teeth should last a lifetime. People aware of how teeth look and an attractive smile will play an important role in enhancing self-confidence.

It is generally more difficult to clean your teeth when they are crowded and overlapping. Inadequate cleaning is a major factor in tooth decay, gum disease and eventual tooth loss. Having your teeth straightened will make it easier for you to look after them. Occasionally, bad bites can lead to excessive wear and/ or uneven wear of the teeth. In cases of severe deep bites, the lower front teeth can bite into the gums behind the upper front teeth and cause serious gum damage (gingival stripping).

Difficulty in Speaking

Some people have difficulty speaking / eating properly because of alignment problems with teeth and jaws. In most cases, orthodontic treatment is commenced as soon as the last baby tooth has been shed. This usually occurs in the early teens. However, orthodontic problems are usually apparent by the age of nine. An early examination allows the orthodontist to detect and evaluate problems and plan appropriate treatment. Some orthodontic problems may be easier to correct if treated early. Early treatment may also achieve results that are not possible once the face and jaws have stopped growing.

Orthodontics for Adults

In the past, orthodontic treatment was generally restricted to children. Since the basic process involved in moving teeth is the same at any age, orthodontic treatment is also successful in adults. As an adult's facial bones are no longer growing, some severe malocclusions cannot be corrected with braces alone. In such cases, orthodontic treatment combined with jaw surgery can achieve dramatic improvements.

Orthodontic Treatment

During the first visit, the patient is examined clinically. This enables the orthodontist to give advice on the treatment options available, when treatment should commence, the duration of treatment, and the approximate cost. If the patient decides to proceed with treatment, an appointment is made to collect records.

Records include:

- Impressions from which plaster models of the teeth are constructed.

- Photographs of the teeth and face.

- Radiographs of the teeth and jaws.

Records allow the orthodontist to analyze each case accurately. They are also used to record the existing malocclusion for future reference.

Treatment Planning

At this visit, the orthodontist discusses the treatment plan(s) which have been formulated using information obtained from the first consultation and records. Arrangements are then made to commence treatment or, if it is too early, to review the patient periodically until it is an appropriate time to commence treatment. In certain cases, early treatment is necessary to prevent functional problems (jaw shifts) or redirect growth. These results are not possible once the face and jaws have completed growth. Such treatment is known as interceptive treatment. Functional appliances, face masks, headgears, bite plates and limited fixed appliances are commonly used during interceptive treatment.

Functional appliances are intra-oral removable appliances used for the purpose of redirecting growth, while facemasks and headgears are extra-oval appliances used for the same purpose. Bite plates are removable appliances used to correct cross bites or reduce deep bites. It is often necessary to remove teeth in order to alleviate crowing and/ or reduce the proclination of teeth. Cavities should be filled and the teeth cleaned before orthodontic treatment is started.


Braces may be removable or fixed (cemented and/ or bonded to the teeth). Removable appliances are usually made of acrylic and stainless steel wires. Fixed appliances generally consist of stainless steel bands around the molars, brackets on the anterior teeth and wires. Brackets can be metal, clear or colored, depending on the patient's preference. In some cases, brackets may be bonded behind the teeth (lingual braces). The wires used are made of either stainless steel or of allows of nickel, titanium, copper and cobalt.

Fitting the braces usually involves 2-3 visits. Braces remain on the teeth for the entire duration of treatment. Patients then attend sessions approximately every 4-8 weeks for adjustments, wire changes, etc. During treatment, patients may have to wear items such as rubber bands and/ or headgear with their braces. These items provide important extra forces for the correction of bite.

Treatment Period

Orthodontic treatment usually takes 12-36 months. Some cases may be completed earlier while others take longer. The total treatment time depends on the severity of the original malocclusion, the type of treatment carried out, and the cooperation of the patient.

At the completion of the active part of treatment, the braces are removed and retaining appliances (retainers) are fitted to hold the teeth steady in their new position. These appliances may be removable plates or wires fitted behind the teeth. The retaining appliances are usually worn full time for 6-12 months. The length of retention varies depending on the original malocclusion and the type of treatment carried out.


No two orthodontic problems are the same and the cost of orthodontic treatment will depend on the severity of the problem and the orthodontist's fee scale. For details, please consult your orthodontist. Most people have some discomfort after their braces are first put on or when adjusted during treatment. After the braces are placed, teeth may become sore and may be tender to biting pressures for 3-5 days.

Patients can usually manage this discomfort well with ordinary pain medication. The lips, cheeks and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks but the discomfort is usually short-lived as the soft tissues become accustomed to the braces.

Avoid Hard Foods

Patients with braces must be careful to avoid hard and sticky foods. They must not chew on pens, pencils or fingernails because chewing on hard things can damage the braces. Damaged braces will prolong treatment and may undesirably affect the outcome of treatment.

While undergoing orthodontics, maintenance of good oral hygiene is extremely important. Brushing requires more precision and time, and must be done thoroughly and everyday if the teeth and gums are to remain healthy. In addition, regular visits to the family dentist must continue during orthodontic treatment. Although the treatment requires time, commitment and consistent compliance, motivated patients will be rewarded with healthy teeth and a beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime.

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