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Frequently Asked Questions

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a specialist branch of dentistry aimed at producing ideal tooth alignment, improvement in the bite (occlusion) and good positioning of the teeth, lips and jaws within the face to produce improved facial aesthetics.

How early can orthodontic treatment start?

Early orthodontic treatment at the age of 7–10 years can benefit in a few situations such as:

  • The correction of crossbites (see glossary of terms)
  • Management of eruption problems
  • Correction of incisor protrusion with functional appliances if there is significant psychological distress

The usual age to commence orthodontic treatment is when all the baby (primary) teeth have exfoliated. This time–point can vary widely between individuals but is usually between 11–14 years.

Can I be too old for treatment?

You are never too old for orthodontic treatment. Tooth movement with orthodontic appliances can be achieved at any age. It is important that all dental disease is stabilised before commencing treatment. Your orthodontist can advise you about what is required.

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What type of braces are used?

A wide range of appliances are available including conventional systems and more discreet invisible lingual appliances. Please see the section on appliances for further details.

Is it necessary to extract teeth?

Orthodontic treatment can often be provided without extracting teeth. Dental extractions are however required if there is significant crowding and/or incisor protrusion. The relative advantages and disadvantages of extraction will be discussed with you during your consultation.

What are the risks of orthodontic treatment?

There are few risks in orthodontic treatment. Dental decay (caries) can occur around orthodontic appliances if oral hygiene is not maintained and if there is a high frequency of sugar intake in between meals and before bedtime. We will advise you if your cleaning is not optimal before such problems occur. Advice will also be given how to clean your teeth with appliances in situ. It is important that you follow this advice.

It is normal for the roots of teeth to shorten (root resorption) by 1–2 mm during treatment. It is extremely rare for this to cause any long–term detrimental effects.

If retainers are not worn after treatment there is a risk of the teeth drifting to their start position. This is termed relapse.

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Will I qualify for NHS treatment?

Orthodontic treatment is provided on the National Health Service to those under the age of 18 years who meet nationally agreed criteria based upon the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need (IOTN). Treatment can at present be provided to those with a Dental Health and Aesthetic grading of 3.6 or more.

What are the costs of private treatment?

Orthodontic treatment generally involves 1 year to 18 months of treatment. The cost for orthodontics includes all the treatment, repair of breakages (to an acceptable limit), provision of retainers and their supervision for one year after appliance removal. Treatment costs do not include the cost of any treatment provided by your family dentist before, during or after orthodontics.

A consultation generally costs £70 which does not include the cost of radiographs (x–rays), study models and photographs. If your family dentist has recently taken radiographs, you are encouraged to bring these to the consultation. The cost of full records (x–rays, models and photos) is £70 and these will be required to finalise your treatment plan.

The cost of comprehensive orthodontic treatment for children ranges from £1000 to £1600. For adults the range of comprehensive treatment varies from £2500 to £3500.

Fees are payable in increments during the treatment period until the appliances are removed. All fees will be fully explained before treatment is started.

How frequent are appointments?

Brace adjustments are usually undertaken every 6–8 weeks. If there are breakages then additional appointments maybe required.

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