Frequently Asked Questions
Your orthodontist will be happy to answer any questions you may have. We allow plenty of time for discussion.
Some common questions are answered below:
Why do I need braces?
Usually it is because the teeth are overcrowded or bite wrongly. Braces can also help prominent or gappy teeth, or teeth that grow in the wrong place.
Why have I been referred by my dentist?
Your dentist is trained to look for orthodontic problems, which don’t just include crooked teeth, but also the development of the teeth and how they meet.
Does my dentist have to refer me?
No, you can refer yourself, either ring us or fill in your details on the contact page. However, we strongly advise you are registered with a general dentist. The orthodontist will keep your dentist informed about your treatment and any work they may need to do (like extractions or fillings).
Can't my dentist do the work?
An orthodontic specialist has received at least 3 years comprehensive training in orthodontics alone and is best placed to advise on and treat a whole range of problems. A general dentist will refer work which is beyond his/her ability and training.
Do I need to stay registered with my dentist?
Your orthodontist will not carry out routine dental care. It is important to keep your mouth healthy during treatment by seeing your dentist regularly.
What age should I have braces?
The usual age is once the adult teeth have come through, roughly the age of 12. However we do treat younger patients if there is a need and a clear benefit. Braces can be used on adults of all ages, there is no upper age limit!
What sort of braces are there?
Please refer to page Types of Braces.
Can I choose what sort of braces I have?
The orthodontist will advise you which type of brace will work best for you. If you have a preference please discuss this at your initial visit, as we always try to tailor treatment to suit you.
Can I have colours on my brace?
Standard fixed braces use small elastics to hold the wire in. These can be plain or coloured and are changed every visit. Try the colours of your football team or your favourite colour!
Can I have less noticeable braces?
Tooth coloured braces can be used to make the brace less noticeable. We also use Invisalign and braces on the back (lingual) of the teeth. See Types of Braces.
I have been refused treatment on the NHS. Can I still have braces?
If your teeth are not severe enough for NHS treatment you can be treated privately if your orthodontist feels you will get some benefit.
I don't want braces, do I have to have them?
In general, it is up to you to decide. However, the orthodontist will advise you about any risks that may occur if you don't have a brace.
How long does treatment take?
This depends on your problem and can be affected by the type of brace you have. Most treatments take between 6 and 20 months. You will be given a guide to treatment time at your initial visit.
How often will I need to see the orthodontist?
Once your treatment starts you will usually visit every 6-10 weeks.
Can I still play contact sports?
Yes, but it is essential you wear a mouthguard for training and matches. This should be custom made by your dentist or orthodontist, and should be made to fit over fixed braces.
I sing or play a wind instrument, how will this affect me?
With some practice you will be able to carry on as before. Please talk to your orthodontist and your music teacher about this.
Are there any risks of treatment?
Common problems include damage to the teeth if you don't clean them properly or look after your diet (see Brace Care). Tooth roots also get slightly shorter during treatment, but usually it is almost undetectable. Other risks will be discussed if they apply to you.
What is a retainer?
Retainers are used after your teeth are straight to hold them in the new position. Without retainers your teeth would move again. They are usually removable clear covers, worn at night.
How long do I need to wear retainers for?
For as long as you want your teeth to remain straight. Your teeth will move a little all through your life. Keep wearing the retainers if you want to be sure of keeping straight teeth.