Orthodontist in Greenwich, South East London
Orthodontics is a type of dentistry that aims to improve the appearance, position and function of crooked or abnormally arranged teeth.
The name comes from a Greek word that literally means "to straighten teeth". Healthcare professionals who specialise in orthodontics are known as orthodontists.
What does orthodontic treatment involve?
Orthodontics uses devices such as a brace to correct the position of the teeth and the exact treatment will depend on the problems with your teeth. In some cases, you may have to have some teeth removed and/or have to wear headgear at night as well as a brace. If worn correctly, you are likely to achieve good results, usually within 18-24 months. If the problem is more complicated, treatment may take longer.
How orthodontics is performed
There are many different types of orthodontic treatment, depending on the exact problem with your teeth or jaw.
The first stage of treatment is to assess the state of your teeth and their likely development. This usually involves taking X-rays, making plaster models and taking photographs of your teeth. This will give the orthodontist an idea of the treatment needed and the likely results.
The four main types of orthodontic appliances are:
- fixed braces – a non-removable brace made up of brackets that are glued to each tooth and linked with wires
- removable braces – usually plastic plates that cover the roof of the mouth and clip on to some teeth; they can only carry out very limited tooth movements
- functional appliances – a pair of removable plastic braces that are joined together or are designed to interact together and fit on to the upper and lower teeth
- headgear – this is not an orthodontic appliance itself, but can be used with other appliances and is usually worn at night
In more severe cases, treatment may involve fixed braces and surgery to move the jaw.
Fixed braces are the most common type of orthodontic appliance. They can be used when a number of teeth need to be corrected, or when the treatment needs to be precise to prevent problems in the future. You will be able to eat normally while wearing a fixed appliance. However, you should avoid certain foods and drinks, such as toffee, hard sweets and fizzy drinks, because they can damage the appliance and teeth.
If you are using a fixed appliance and you play a contact sport such as rugby, you should wear a gum shield to protect both your mouth and the appliance.
Fixed braces are usually made out of metal, so they will be noticeable on the front of your teeth. We offer ceramic or clear plastic braces that are much less noticeable. However, their use also depends on the particular problem and tooth position.
Removable braces can be used to correct minor problems, such as slightly crooked teeth. They can also be used to discourage children from sucking their thumb. These braces should only be taken out of the mouth for cleaning or as a precaution during certain activities, such as cycling or playing a wind instrument.
Functional appliances can be used to treat problems with the position of the upper and lower jaw and teeth. Most people will need to wear them all of the time. It is very important to follow your orthodontist's instructions about how and when to wear the appliance. If it is not worn correctly, the treatment will be unsuccessful. It may be necessary to remove your functional appliance for cleaning and while you are eating.
Headgear is used to correct the position of the back teeth or to keep them in position while the front teeth are being treated. Most people only need to wear headgear for a few hours during the evening or when they are sleeping. You will not be able to eat or drink while wearing headgear.
There are other types of braces available privately, such as "invisible" - "INVISALIGN" or Lingual (Incognito) braces that fit on the back of the teeth. You will need to check with the Orthodontist to see if these treatment options will suit your problem.