Braces treatment also known as orthodontic treatment is a specialized treatment in dentistry involved in straightening teeth. In conjunction with surgery, orthodontic treatment could also correct the jaw relationship and the bite.
Due to the complex nature of the orthodontic treatment, it is important that the provider of orthodontic treatment have an intimate knowledge of how teeth moves and to accurately diagnose the problems of each patient. This usually requires the practitioner who is a dentist to have 3 years of full time specialized training in an approved institution and obtained the necessary credentials through examinations by the professional bodies. These practitioners would be placed in specialist register and they are called Orthodontist or Orthodontic Specialist. There is no rule or law in Singapore that state that only orthodontist can render braces treatment so you can check if your dentist is a specialist by going to Singapore Dental Council website (www.sdc.gov.sg)
It is a common misunderstanding that orthodontic treatment involves putting on braces on the teeth and attach the wire onto it and the teeth will straighten eventually. In fact putting on braces is the easy part of the orthodontic treatment. The difficult part is to diagnose the underlying problems of the condition, anticipate how the teeth will respond to treatment and to resolve any problems when the tooth does not move as predicted. Orthodontist are practitioner who has restricted themselves to provide only braces treatment on a regular basis and no other treatment. Thus they are more experienced in handling braces treatment. These experiences cannot be taught by attending weekend lectures or short term orthodontic courses.
" How long is the braces treatment?"
Most braces treatment lasts between 12-24 month. The knowledge and experience of the practitioner is important in determining how fast the treatment will progress. Other factors such as patient's cooperation during treatment and regular attendance for treatment will also affect the length of treatment. In some cases the use of self-ligating braces such as SmartClip can shorten the length of treatment.
"Braces treatment done by Orthodontist is expensive!"
The cost of orthodontic treatment rendered by the dentist is the same as the orthodontist in some cases. It is true that orthodontic treatment is more expensive than routine dental treatment such as cleaning of teeth. However the cost of treatment is spread out over the entire period of the treatment and you do not have to pay in one lump sum.
It is the peace of mind that you would be getting when you know that your treatment is done by the orthodontist. Orthodontist also have experience in a wide variety of appliances to treat your problem and they will be able to help you choose an appliance that is most suitable for your case.
"Must I wear retainers after braces treatment"
Retainer is an important part of braces treatment. It is used to maintain the tooth position after the braces treatment is completed. Tooth will move regardless of age so retainer is there to prevent that. Poor oral hygiene and defective fillings can cause the teeth to move more. It is important to realise that tooth movement is easier to detect in a person with straight teeth than one with crooked teeth. Thus it is wise to protect what you have worked so hard to achieve by wearing the retainer as directed by your orthodontist.
"Do I have to extract teeth to do braces?"
Extraction of teeth is not always necessary. It is just one of the way to create space. There are other ways to create space and the orthodontist is the best person to ask as they would be able to diagnose your problems accurately and give you the correct advice.
"I get jaw clicks, pain, lock jaw and headache after braces treatment"
Extensive research has been done in this area and it has been concluded that good orthodontic treatment and extractions of teeth will not cause these ailments. There is many causes to jaw clicks and pain such as chewing on ice, stress etc. "Poor bite" could be one of the causes of jaw click and pain. Orthodontic treatment to resolve these bites will not worsen them and may in fact may them better in some cases.
Body or head posture may result in "poor bite" or clenching of teeth causing headaches. The changing of the bite pattern in braces treatment is unlikely to cause poor body posture resulting in headaches.
In cases when patients exhibit jaw pain or headaches, orthodontist would advise them to resolve these problems before embarking on braces treatment.