Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of poor alignment of teeth and jaws. If you are unhappy with the appearance of your teeth and feel you need orthodontic treatment, ask your normal dentist for advice regarding referral to an orthodontic specialist.
Orthodontic treatment is not quick though – it normally takes about two years of active treatment to correct poorly aligned teeth, followed by at least one year of retention using retaining braces (retainers) to hold the corrected teeth in place.
What do orthodontists do?
If you’ve visited an orthodontist you may have heard the term malocclusion. This refers to poorly aligned teeth, an incorrect bite or a mixture of both. Malocclusions are corrected by moving teeth with braces, which may be fixed or removable.
Braces can be used on their own or as combinations – sometimes it is necessary to use additional braces such as functional braces or headgear (which fixes to bands on the back teeth and is worn around the head).
Braces can be removable or fixed: removable braces can be taken out for cleaning; fixed braces are permanently attached to the teeth for the duration of the treatment. Braces need to be adjusted regularly, normally at intervals of four to eight weeks.
After removable or fixed brace treatment has finished, it will be necessary to wear a retainer for a period of time. A retainer may be either a fixed wire, which is permanently attached behind the straightened teeth, or a very simple removable brace or a type of gum shield.