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Orthodontics – The Frequently Asked Questions

What does ‘orthodontics’ actually refer to?

Orthodontics is the field of dentistry that specialises in correcting jaw and teeth complications by fitting patients with orthodontic appliances.

Is there a difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?

Orthodontists are specialists in their field, having completed the normal 6 years of dentistry training plus an additional 2 or 3 years to qualify in orthodontics. Dentistry encompasses more general treatment and could be likened to the equivalent of your GP. However, an orthodontist helps treat more extensive problems usually centred around restructuring teeth and jaw complications.

What types of treatment does the term ‘orthodontics’ cover?

The most common of orthodontic treatment is braces treatment/re-aligning teeth. Braces date back to Ancient Egypt when metal bands were used as well as cords made from animal intestines. They have continued to evolve, with a range of types to choose from today including ‘invisible’ braces designed to go unnoticed by others – these put comfort and aesthetics at the lead of their design. Braces has evolved with the social expectations and aesthetic normalities of today, with many designs being centred around discreet and minimal.

Invisalign alingers are an increasingly popular option as they are removable, transparent and subtle. A non-invasive form of straightening teeth, Invisalign do not have the sharp bracket pieces that characterise traditional metal braces, but are one slick looking piece of plastic easily placed over your teeth.

Is there a favourable age for orthodontic treatment?

If you’re a parent and want your child to undergo orthodontic treatment, you may find your orthodontist wants to wait a few years before your child’s teeth develop properly. Intervening too early can do more harm than good and even be detrimental to a child’s dental development.

Why did it always used to be teens getting braces? Braces used to be a statement associated with teenagers and youths – this was what created a lot of the stigma around braces. However, with the new ‘invisible’ treatments available, it’s easier than ever to get orthodontics treatment if you’re an adult – one in 5 patients treated for braces is actually an adult accordingly to a survey in 2012.

If I’m undergoing orthodontic treatment, do I need to see a dentist as well?

Yes. Ensuring you have healthy teeth comes under the responsibility of a dentist – regular check-ups are important to ensure you do not develop tooth decay or cavities.

How often do I have to visit my orthodontist whilst undergoing treatment?

This depends on the type of treatment you are having and your orthodontist will be able to provide you with more accurate information on this. Generally, appointments are necessary every 4 to 10 weeks.