What does a dentist do on a roller coaster?
He braces himself.
Orthodontics (or known as ‘braces’) is the area of dentistry which handles the treatment of problems in the alignment of teeth and jaws. An attractive smile can increase self-confidence; with regular dental checkups and care, your smile will last you a lifetime. An orthodontic problem is called a “malocclusion”, meaning crooked or protruding teeth, which do not fit together properly. The practice of orthodontics requires professional skill in the design, application and control of corrective appliances, such as braces, to bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment to achieve a good facial balance.
Just as a note: whenever we talk about “orthodontics” in the dental world, we are referring to the treatment done with archwires and brackets. If you are looking for having teeth straightened but without the wires and brackets then you are looking at Invisalign, which you can read more about it by clicking this sentence.
Can adults have braces?
The good news is that age is not a factor when you consider having braces. Any adult with good general health with healthy teeth and gums are a suitable candidate for braces! This is because while we move your teeth your bone will follow the movement of your teeth and remodel at the same time. This kind of situation is not limited by age itself, it just moves a lot faster for kids simply because they are actively growing!
When’s the best time to have braces done?
For adults – anytime. Our definition of adults is anyone whom have ‘stopped’ growing (a.k.a after puberty and your teenage growth spurt).
For kids – depends on the problem when we see them in our clinic. Some kids can start as early as 5 or 6 years old. Others may start a little later such as 10 or 11 years old.
Why does my kid need braces at such a young age?
In basic orthodontics we break do two types of corrections:
- Skeletal (or basal bone) correction, where the relationship between the upper and the lower jaw are not aligned well with each other. Examples of this are cross-bites (I see a lot of these in kids)
- Dental (or teeth), this is the most commonly requested thing to correct. E.g. crowded teeth, too much spacing between teeth.
For kids that undergo early treatment, we tend to target the skeleton. We call this treatment phase I treatment. We want the kids to have a good bone foundation similar to having a good foundation in order to build a stable and long lasting house. Most kids whom need to undergo early orthodontic treatment is because we tend to notice some habits or growth habits that is not good or normal in our professional opinion therefore we tend to recommend parents to have these treatment done early. Otherwise in most of these cases, to correct them properly in the future kids will need to undergo extensive maxillofacial surgery under general aesthetics which is not fun and can cost a lot more money compared to this sort of early treatment.
For all other corrections that are not skeletal (e.g. targeting the teeth and mainly for adults) we call this treatment phase 2 treatment.
How long do I need to have my braces on for?
For adults, we usually estimate that you may need to wear your braces on for around 18-24 months (roughly 1.5-2.0 years), as usual, the actual time depends on how your body reacts to the treatment. A more accurate assessment will be done when you see us in the clinic.
For kids, it depends on which stage/phase they are on.
- For phase I treatment (usually done before their puberal spurt in order to correct skeletal problems), it can last from 18-24 months (roughly 1.5-2.0 years)
- For phase II treatment (just after pubertal spurt) we treat them as if they are adults as we will be mainly correcting dental problems, it can last another 18-24 months.
So if your child is having both phases of treatment time, a rough estimate of 5 years in total of braces is anticipated. Of course, usually between these years they can have 1-2 years of “break/vacation” between the phases.
What sort of braces do you use?
Our clinic utilises the IP (individual appliance) system developed by Progressive Orthodontics which are made and developed in California, USA. We believe that there is no “one size fits all” type of appliance and each person’s requirements are different. Using this appliance allows us to customise your braces to suit your individual situation.
Sounds great! So how do I get myself or my child started in having braces?
Before we put braces on you or your child, we need to check that your teeth and gums are healthy. Once we finish your check up, if there are any fillings, cleaning or outstanding treatment that needs to be done, we will prioritise that for you to make sure all of them are completed before you start braces
My policy is that your teeth and gums must be completely healthy and free from further treatment before starting the exciting journey of braces!
After that, we will take additional X-rays, photos and make a model of your teeth and start writing a treatment plan and produce a report for you. On our second consultation, our staff will discuss with you the options, pros and cons of each of them and the price. This is the best time to ask any questions to our friendly staff – we want you to be well informed of any queries or questions you have.
After that, it will take around 2 weeks for us to customise your appliance from USA and start your treatment.
Overall: It can take up to a month of preparation and up to 5 appointments (excluding having any other dental treatments done) before you start on your exciting journey.
I’d like to know more about what the components of the braces are!
Here’s a diagram to summarise what’s involved (click or tap to enlarge):
An 18 month time lapse of braces treatment: