What Treatment Problems Could There Be?
Orthodontic Treatment by a Non-Specialist
Not seeing a specialist orthodontist could sometimes lead to all sorts of problems such as wrong diagnoses; failed treatments; much longer treatment durations; damage to teeth and the health of your gums; loss of facial harmony; and, worst of all for a lot of patients, an unsightly smile.
Dr Pourghadiri and Dr Good are British-trained specialist orthodontists. They are highly trained professionals who have completed five-year university dentistry degree courses to obtain a dental qualification; then worked in various branches of dentistry to gain a broad working knowledge and experience of its different fields; gained success in additional professional exams; and then completed approved three-year full-time university and hospital postgraduate orthodontic specialist training programmes to achieve higher qualifications. These qualifications include Membership in Orthodontics of at least one of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons and a Master of Science degree in Orthodontics.
Orthodontics has long been a specialised discipline, though general dentists are also legally entitled to perform procedures in any branch of dentistry. However, specialist orthodontists are the most highly trained experts in the field of orthodontics, limiting their practice to the treatment of orthodontic problems only, and able to address more complex jaw and facial issues.
The advantages of seeing a specialist orthodontist rather than a general dentist for straightening your teeth are numerous:
- Specialist orthodontists have more extensive experience from the outset as they are required to treat many orthodontic cases as part of their training.
- Specialist orthodontists don’t just straighten teeth; they can correct issues with your jaws and bite, ensuring your bite is comfortable and functional at the end of treatment.
- Because of their more extensive skills and knowledge, specialist orthodontists can offer a wider range of solutions and braces and unlike many dentists with an interest in orthodontics are not limited to just one system or restricted to quick-fix fads.
- Specialist orthodontists are better equipped to invest in the latest technology and be the first to carry out new treatment opportunities.
- Specialist orthodontists attend regular continuing professional development training programmes and conferences at a much higher echelon.
- Specialist orthodontists are definitely value for money – the cost of braces is very similar with a general dentist or a specialist orthodontist, but specialist orthodontists generally offer a higher quality of care and ‘finish’ and more skilled and expert care pound for pound.
- Specialists and orthodontists can guarantee you a better chance of success.
Putting braces on or fitting them certainly does not hurt. No needles or sharp objects of any kind are involved, and you don’t have to go to sleep to have them fitted! Removable braces simply clip onto the teeth, and fixed braces are glued to the teeth. After braces have been fitted, there may be some discomfort for a few days. The level of this discomfort varies quite a bit from individual to individual but here are some common discomforts:
- Sore or slightly loose teeth, prone to biting pressure
- Rubbing on lips, cheeks, or tongue
- Increased saliva flow, and a minor temporary effect on speech
After the first few days of wearing braces, they will become much more comfortable, whilst discomforts can be resolved with standard painkillers.
Injuries from appliances
Orthodontic appliances, such as braces, require careful handling to prevent injury. Mouthguards should be worn with appliances to reduce the impact and chances of braces scratching your mouth. Certain foods and habits should be avoided, aligned with the advice from your orthodontist. The use of headgear is outdated and barely ever used, however you should never wear this during physical activities to avoid facial injuries. If any component of your brace is damaged, contact your orthodontist immediately for repair or adjustment.
Jaw joint clicking and pain
TMJ disorder, affecting the jaw joints and facial muscles, can lead to:
- Joint pain
- Limited mouth opening
- Muscles aches
- Joint noises
Often the exact causes are multifaceted by triggers such as teeth clenching, whilst stress and tension can intensify symptoms. Treating TMJ is considered more medical than dental, but if you suspect any TMJ symptoms you should inform your orthodontist.
Loose or Poor Fillings, Crowns or Bridges
If you require any restorative work, we advise your dentist carries this out. Prior to orthodontic treatment, it is important to present a good and stable mouth condition with no infection. If you have any poor quality fillings, crowns or bridges that are loose, you should have these remedied beforehand as they may become dislodged with your braces. If they are not treated prior, they can disrupt orthodontic treatment.
Oral Hygiene, Disease, and Decay
It is wrongly believed that orthodontic braces result in swelling of gyms, damage of enamel and teeth or stains. However, this is falsely believed and the damage to oral hygiene is from:
- Insufficient brushing of the teeth
- Sugary foods
- Acidic drinks
By maintaining a balanced diet and following proper dental hygiene, orthodontic treatment complications will be avoided.
Previously Traumatised Teeth
If a patient experiences trauma to the front of their teeth before or during orthodontic treatment, it could lead to 3, albeit uncommon, possible conditions.
- Loss of vitality or degeneration of nerve inside the tooth
- Root resorption or shortening of the tooth root
- Ankylosis or the fusion of the root to the surrounding bone
All 3 conditions can impact the longevity of the tooth if not treated. Speak to your orthodontist if you believe you have one of these conditions.
Orthodontic relapse is the tendency for teeth to return to their original positions post-treatment. Your orthodontist will try to minimise the chances of relapse by following methods such as wearing retainers after braces are removed.
Removable retainers should be worn every night for the first year after completion of braces treatment, phasing down to 2 nights per week. With fixed or bonded retainers, you should expect ‘indefinite retention’, keeping them on for as long as possible.
Risks With Orthodontic Surgery
Very occasionally, to provide the best solution for your bite, it may be necessary to have both orthodontic treatment and surgery to modify the size, shape or position of your jaws. Your orthodontist will advise you on the pros and cons of this method. It’s important you understand the risks, as these need to be discussed in detail with your surgeon.