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Orthodontic braces are used to gently move your own teeth into nice alignment, and sometimes to correct jaw misalignment.
Wearing braces means improvements to the way your teeth look, and the way you bite together, can be achieved without any need for cosmetic additions. Your teeth are still yours, but they look great after successful brace treatment!
A lot of people think only children have braces, but in fact, 18% of all brace treatments in the UK are now carried out on adults, and that figure is set to rise.
There are many different types of braces available to allow your orthodontic specialist to close gaps, uncross teeth, move protruding front teeth back, or line them up nicely.
Removable appliances may be used to achieve simple movement in quite a short space of time. In some cases, a removable brace forms a first stage of treatment before moving on to fixed braces.
Fixed braces are made up of metal brackets glued to the teeth, which hold a thin strip of wire. Treatment typically takes between 12 and 24 months.
In the UK, many children can have this sort of treatment free on charge under the NHS system, but provision may be patchy, and waiting lists long. Your local specialist orthodontic practice may be able to offer private treatment more quickly.
The NHS doesn’t usually provide adult orthodontics, but the good news is, that as a fee-paying adult, there’s a greater choice of appliance types.
Discreet, clear brackets make bracewear very acceptable, as do clear aligners (most people know these as ‘invisible braces’). Some specialists may offer lingual appliances, which use brackets glued on the back, rather than the front of the teeth.
Whatever your situation or your concerns, a specialist orthodontist will want to take some records, usually including x-rays, photographs, and impressions which are cast up into plaster models of your teeth.
Once the orthodontist has considered your records, he or she will talk you through the possible treatments available to you.
And from there – it’s into braces!
Your orthodontist will want to see you every 5 – 8 weeks or so, to make adjustments to the braces, and check progress.
After treatment is finished, you’ll need to wear retainers. These can be removable or fixed (a thin strip of wire glued behind your teeth). The retainers will hold your teeth in their new positions, so that you can keep your confident smile looking great!