The diagnosis and treatment of abnormal positional problems of the teeth and jaws.
Orthodontics is the speciality part of dentistry involved in the diagnosis and treatment of abnormal positional problems of the teeth and jaws eg crooked teeth, abnormal bites and small/large jaw sizes.
Technically any dentist in the UK is permitted to ‘do’ orthodontics, provided they practice within the limits of their training and competence. However, undergraduate training only exposes dental students to basic orthodontic theory and simple techniques, so a detailed knowledge of orthodontics can only be obtained through three years of full-time specialist training in accredited university and hospital posts to become an orthodontist. Specialists are typically recognised by their MOrth RCS qualification (awarded by a Royal College of Surgeons) and inclusion on the General Dental Council's list of orthodontic specialists (www.gdc.org.uk).
A small proportion of orthodontists then undergo two further years of full-time training in specialised areas such as adult treatment, surgical management and cleft lip/palate care to qualify as consultant orthodontists, typically recognised by the additional qualification letters FDS(Orth) RCS.
The Priestgate Clinic provides consultant-level orthodontics.
Orthodontics produces better results than ever before and for a wide range of smile and bite problems. Indeed, adults can be treated at virtually any age, as shown below: the results of fixed brace results in a 60-something lady treated at the Priestgate Clinic. A range of brace options is available, but this may be confusing, especially if the details and effectiveness of some techniques aren’t accurately portrayed.
Fixed appliances use metal or tooth-coloured attachments on each tooth, and a connecting wire provides the momentum. They’re very effective at correcting tooth and bite positions, especially for complex 3D movements, but may feel cumbersome and require hygiene effort. Conversely,many adults find that there’s less to 'juggle' with a fixed brace compared to the self-discipline required for aligner treatment. Adult fixed brace treatment typically takes an average of 9-15 months for optimum benefits since they do much more than just align the front teeth. Therefore, be wary that advertised ‘6 month’ or ‘fast’ solutions aren’t as revolutionary as claimed!
Orthodontic aligners are transparent plastic braces, worn for 1-2 weeks, to straighten teeth by applying programmed pressure on them. InvisalignTM is the original brand, but there are many newer brands or ways of designing aligner treatment, e.g. cutting-edge 3D software to directly customise each individual’s treatment (shown below), rather than relying on a technician and standardised algorithms. In my experience, this also makes aligner treatment more cost-effective. Nevertheless, while aligners are good at treating a range of simple to moderate irregularity problems, independent research shows that there’s always a shortfall between the simulated and actual results, so always ask to see examples of actual cases treated by the dentist involved.
Every orthodontic treatment is followed by retainers to prevent relapse i.e. teeth becoming crooked again.This phase should be an integral and long-term consideration, not a brief after-thought. Quite simply, why pay for treatment for it to unravel afterwards?The quicker the treatment then the greater the relapse risks since the oral tissues have had insufficient time to adapt. Therefore, the best long-term control typically requires a combination of transparent removable retainers and bonded wires (shown on the incisors’ rear surfaces).
Orthodontics is a valuable investment and we aim to price this in a fair and transparent manner. In particular: