How common is orthodontic treatment?

According to the British Orthodontic Society (BOS), nearly one million people in the UK started having orthodontic treatment last year, and more adults than ever before want treatment.  Around one in three British children have crooked teeth and require orthodontic treatment to straighten them.

Braces are more prevalent in children, and four out of five orthodontic patients are children, but more adults than ever before want orthodontic treatment. Many adults seeking orthodontic treatment do so after having missed out when they were children.

Most courses of orthodontic treatment begin with a referral from a General Dentist to a specialist like Belur Orthodontics.

Why do I need orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment is about making the best of your teeth; it’s about improving the harmony of your mouth and jaws. Once you can bite together correctly, you can eat more comfortably and care for your teeth and gums more easily. And your smile will benefit immensely!

Treatment almost always involves braces to straighten crooked, crowded or protruding teeth or close gaps between teeth. The aim is to correct the bite of the teeth so that the top and bottom teeth meet well when you close your mouth.

Treatment usually lasts from 18 months to two years, with visits to the orthodontist required every four to six weeks.

These are some of the most common reasons patients seek treatment:

  • Protruding upper front teeth (sticking out) – one of the most common dental problems.
  • Crowding – a narrow jaw may mean there is not enough room for your teeth, resulting in crowding. Conversely, some patients have significant gaps between their teeth.
  • Asymmetry – particularly when the centre lines of the upper and lower front teeth do not match, perhaps because the teeth have drifted or the jaw’s position has shifted.
  • A deep bite – when your upper teeth cover the lower teeth too much.
  • A reverse bite – when your upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth.
  • An open bite – when your front teeth remain apart when your back teeth meet; the tongue is often still visible between the upper and lower front teeth.
  • Impacted teeth – in some patients, secondary teeth come through in the wrong position or do not erupt at all. Orthodontic treatment can help bring these teeth into the correct position.

What will happen at the first appointment?

Most importantly, we want to understand exactly what it is you really want to see improved about your smile and what your concerns are. We’ll take a set of photographs and probably one or two x-rays, and then make lots of notes on the records.

We will then have a good chat about what we will do to give you the bespoke smile you are looking for, how long your treatment will take and what the financial investment will be. Occasionally, for more complex treatments, a second planning visit is needed to finalize your treatment plan.

You will see photos of our case studies, as well as descriptions of the braces we will be using. As there is lots of visual material, it’s great if both mum and dad can come along with a child patient. If you are an adult, we’re very happy for you to bring a relative or partner too.

At the end of your initial consultation we will let you know:

  • – What appropriate treatment is best to achieve the smile you are looking for.
  • – How long that treatment will take.
  • – Your total investment in the treatment and the various flexible payment options.
  • – The various NHS and private choices of treatment.

What will happen after the first appointment?

After the initial consultation, we can organize appointments for further x-rays, models and photographs at our Marlow branch as soon as you or your child are ready to start treatment.

If you have chosen the NHS option at this stage we place the child on our treatment waiting list, and as soon as they come to the top of the waiting list the treatment can commence (at our Marlow or Wokingham branches). Alternatively if you have chosen a private option, arrangements can be made to commence the treatment at your convenience at Aylesbury or Marlow.

What are the different types of braces?

Classic Braces

Classic braces (braces positioned on the front of the teeth) are available in silver or multi-coloured. This popular option suits many teenagers, especially with the addition of colours to brighten up the brace. The classic conventional metal brace can be provided on the NHS. There is also the option of having low friction fixed braces (such as Damon, Innovation and Carriere). This relatively new technology allows increased choice and enables us to provide you with the most appropriate treatment. Low friction braces are another classic metal brace, which can speed up some treatments and can even help to reduce the need for extractions. The low friction option is not yet available on the NHS.

Invisible Braces

Sometimes the appearance of braces can put people off having orthodontic treatment. That’s why we are happy to offer a selection of invisible braces:

  • – Completely invisible Incognito/Win appliances: braces on the inside of your teeth
  • – Nearly invisible Invisalign, Clearstep or Simpli 5: a series of very thin, clear plastic ‘mouth guard type’ aligners
  • – Tooth coloured ceramic braces: Clarity Advanced, and Damon Clear braces, which are a popular option with teenagers and adults

There is no single appliance that is perfect for every patient. Once we are clear what it is that you wish to improve about your smile, we will then be able to let you know which treatment is most likely to deliver that result for you, in a way that perfectly fits with your cosmetic requirements and lifestyle.

See more of our invisible treatments:

Conventional removable appliances

Removable appliances are used to correct simple problems, especially in patients who still have primary (baby) teeth in place.

Functional appliances

Functional appliances (e.g. the Twin Block/Advancsync/Bionator/Dynamax appliances) are popular for reducing the projection of the front teeth in children who are growing. Reverse Pull Facemask is an appliance to help the growth of the upper jaw, in a reverse bite. Chin Cup is a type of appliance to prevent the growth of the lower jaw, in a reverse bite.

Miscellaneous appliances

We also use other appliances such as Headgear, Pendulum appliance, Maxillary Intrusion Splint, Rapid Palatal Expanders, Occlusal Splints, and Face Formers to complement the main appliances.

What about retainers?

Retainers are fitted at the end of orthodontic treatment after the braces are removed. They can be either removable or fixed onto the teeth. Almost every patient who has had orthodontic treatment needs to wear retainers.

While retainers are technically not an orthodontic appliance because they do not move the teeth, they are essential in preventing the teeth moving once the braces are removed. If you do not wear these retainers then your teeth will move out of correct alignment, and the hard work in wearing the braces will be lost. You should only go ahead with orthodontic brace treatment if you are also happy to wear retainers to maintain the result at the end of treatment.

There are two reasons for wearing retainers:

  1. Teeth tend to want to move back towards their original positions. This is called relapse.
  2. As we get older our teeth may start to move unpredictably, often showing some crossing over and an increase in crowding. By wearing retainers long-term we can reduce these age changes in the position of the teeth. The longer you wear retainers, the longer you can keep your teeth straight.

Types of retainers

There are lots of different types of retainers. The most common types of retainers used in the UK are the vacuum-formed retainer, the bonded retainer and the Hawley retainer.

  • Vacuum-formed retainer
    This is a clear retainer that is usually worn on a part-time basis. You must never eat or drink with the retainer in place. Initially it grips your teeth firmly, but most patients adapt very well to this type of retainer.
  • Bonded retainer
    This is a fixed type of retainer. This is stuck onto the teeth and is usually hidden on the inside of the teeth, so it is not visible. The advantage is that you don’t need to remember to wear this retainer (as it is fixed to the teeth full-time). However, you must spend extra time cleaning around it and if it ever gets loose, you should seek advice.
  • Hawley retainer
    This is a strong retainer, which is removable and has a plastic bit that fits either behind your lower teeth or in your palate behind the upper teeth. There is also usually a thin metal wire running across your front teeth to keep them in position. This retainer may affect your speech slightly when you first use it, but this quickly improves with time.

Instructions for retainers
Each type of retainer has its own set of instructions and your Orthodontist will give you the instructions for your particular retainer. It is really important you follow these instructions. The instructions will help to reduce the chances of your teeth relapsing, and will also help to make sure that the retainers do not cause any damage to your teeth and gums.

When should children first visit an orthodontist?

We like to meet patients at age eight to nine years, so that we can plan the best time for starting treatment. This is especially important if facial growth guidance is needed. An early diagnosis of certain problems can dramatically reduce the amount of treatment required. We are, of course, happy to meet your child at whatever point you or your dentist seek our specialist help.

In most cases, we find that the best time for starting active treatment is when they get all their permanent teeth. Often the best solution is for the child to be placed on review until their 12th/13th birthday. The review will typically take place at our Aylesbury/Marlow branch.

What are orthodontics and dentofacial orthopaedics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry concerned with the growth of the teeth, jaws and face. Orthodontics, formally Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopaedics, is a specialty of dentistry that is concerned with the study and treatment of malocclusions (improper bites) which may be a result of tooth irregularity, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both. Orthodontic treatment can focus on dental displacement only, or can deal with the control and modification of facial growth. In the latter case it is better defined as ‘dentofacial orthopaedics’.

Would you like to know more? Get in touch for a free consultation or to discuss treatment in detail.

What is growth modification or dentofacial orthopaedics?

One of the nine specialties is ‘Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics’. You probably know that an Orthodontist straightens teeth, and indeed: ‘ortho’ comes from the Greek for ‘straight‘ or ‘correct’, and ‘dontic’ from the Greek for teeth.

But what about Dentofacial Orthopaedics? ‘Dentofacial’ is ‘teeth’ plus ‘face’, while ‘ortho’ again means ‘straight’ and ‘paedic’ is from the Greek for child.

Essentially, while Orthodontics entails the management of tooth movement, Dentofacial Orthopaedics involves the guidance of facial growth and development, which occurs largely during childhood. In both cases, appliances are frequently used – the more familiar braces for Orthodontics, and other specialized appliances such as headgear, myofunctional (relating to muscle function) appliances and expanders depending on which facial abnormalities are present. Sometimes Orthopaedic treatment may precede conventional braces, but often the two are accomplished at the same time. So if your child gets braces and headgear, together with a functional appliance, they are undergoing Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopaedics.

Would you like to know more? Get in touch for a free consultation or to discuss treatment in detail.

What is orthognathic Surgery?

Orthognathic surgery is surgery to correct conditions of the jaw and face related to structure, growth, sleep apnea, TMJ disorders, malocclusion problems owing to skeletal disharmonies, or other orthodontic problems that cannot be easily treated with braces. Orthognathic surgery can also be referred to as corrective jaw surgery. The surgery can be avoided most of the times, if growth modification is undertaken during the childhood.

Would you like to know more? Get in touch for a free consultation or to discuss treatment in detail.

Are there any risks with orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontics is one of the least invasive ways to improve your smile and is suitable for almost everyone. We carefully check to see if there are any reasons why you should not undertake treatment and will explain any risks to you.

Plaque left on teeth can scar them, so during treatment you will need to take a little more care to keep your teeth clean. We give you lots of help and advice on how to avoid this and also provide complimentary special orthodontic toothbrushes to help you do a great job with your tooth brushing.

During treatment the length of the roots of the teeth can shorten slightly – this is such a small change for most patients that it does not affect the health of your mouth. A few patients are more prone to root shortening due to the shapes of their roots. If this is the case with you, we will explain that you might have a greater chance of root shortening and tell you what we will do during treatment to minimize this risk.

Does it hurt?

For some patients, when braces are fitted or adjusted, there can be soreness of the teeth. This tenderness tends to only last for a few days. A mild analgesic such as Paracetamol may be needed.

We give our private patients a complimentary amenity pack including special brushes to help keep teeth nice and clean. This also contains special wax to put on the brace if it catches the cheek. This can happen occasionally, especially whilst you are getting used to a new brace.

Feedback from patients in our end-of-treatment questionnaires is overwhelmingly positive. Even those who have undergone lengthy treatments say their new smile makes treatment worthwhile.

How successful are braces?

Orthodontics works incredibly well and we have been happy to transform the smiles of thousands of patients.

We will give you a very good estimate of the treatment time at your first visit to us, along with the total investment you will make in your new smile. We choose the most efficient and comfortable appliances and techniques for you and schedule appointments to complete your treatment as fast as possible. It’s rare to take longer than two years and, depending on age and the issues that need addressing, you can be finished in less than a year.

However, it is very important to look after your teeth while you’re wearing braces. Braces can trap food and cause more plaque to build up than usual. You need to take extra care cleaning your teeth and watch what you eat, for example by avoiding sugary foods and drinks. You also need to see your Dentist and Hygienist as usual while having orthodontic treatment.

How often will I need to visit?

It varies depending on the stage of treatment and the type of brace. On average, we’d like to see you every 4 to 8 weeks to carry out any necessary adjustments.

How much will treatment cost?

The investment depends on what type of brace you choose to use, the length of time your treatment will take and how complicated your treatment is. One of our experienced Patient Coordinators at Belur Orthodontics can usually give you a guide on the phone once you have given us some details about how we can help you. At your first appointment the exact investment for each suitable treatment will be outlined, and we will help you choose the treatment that best suits you. Occasionally, for more complex treatments, a second planning visit is needed to finalize your treatment plan. We have a variety of payment options, which can spread your financial commitment throughout the time that you are receiving the treatment.

See our pricing catalogue here or contact us for an detailed discussion about treatment.

Can I have NHS treatment?

Orthodontic treatment is available free on the National Health Service for under-18s who need it. They are assessed for their treatment needs based on the Index of Treatment Need (IOTN). The IOTN is used to assess the dental health needs and eligibility of children less than 18 years of age for NHS orthodontic treatment. However, children who want orthodontic treatment to fix minor cosmetic problems are not eligible for NHS treatment. Under the NHS, we can provide only a certain type of brace i.e. conventional metal braces and some removable and functional appliances. To start treatment on the NHS, there is usually a waiting time of 6-9 months. The waiting times are dependent on the funding and number of children needing treatment at a given point of time. The NHS treatment is undertaken in our Marlow clinic and during the hours of 9am to 3pm.

Can I have private treatment?

Private treatment is widely available. The fees vary, but are usually around £2,000 to £3,950 for children and adults for labial braces. However, they can be higher if you choose more invisible type of braces. One advantage of private treatment is that you have a wider choice of braces, including clear or invisible ones, and friction-free braces. In addition, we provide afternoon, late evening and weekend appointments. Further, the treatment can be started straight away as it is not dependent on the funding by the NHS. You would expect that our fees fairly reflect the level of care and expertise you will receive from us. In turn, we understand our responsibility to make our fees as affordable as possible. The treatment can be undertaken in any location i.e. Marlow, Bourne End and Wokingham.

95% of our cases treated privately are on a non-extraction basis, due to the wider choice of appliances available and the flexibility in choice of material and laboratories.

We are happy to provide a range of payment options to suit most budgets including:

  • Staged payments
  • Monthly payments
  • Interest-free credit over 12 – 24 months
  • Discount on full payments
  • Sibling and family discounts

You can then discuss with us a payment plan suitable for you.

Many practices charge for additional items during treatment. We like you to have the reassurance that there will be no hidden extras. Our fees are therefore, fully inclusive of all:

  • Materials
  • Laboratory fees
  • Appointments – after school, late evening and Saturday.
  • Emergency visits
  • And, within reason, breakages.

Also included is:

  • A brace care and cleaning pack,
  • A period of supervision after the braces have come off
  • Your first set of removable and fixed retainers

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