For Children & Teenagers
Why have you been sent to an orthodontist?
Your dentist thinks you might need your teeth straightening and so they have asked us to have a look at you — as orthodontists we specialise in this area. They’ve told us you’re happy to wear braces, have otherwise healthy teeth and are good at keeping them clean. So, we’ll examine your teeth and see whether you need braces.
What happens at my appointment?
The first thing we will do with you is what’s known as a clinical assessment, where we measure your teeth to see if you qualify for free braces. If you do, you’ll join the waiting list and then come back to start treatment in about 18 months, unless you or your parents decide you would like to avoid waiting and get private treatment straight away (see Crocodile for more information).
Will I have to wear metal braces?
If you qualify for NHS treatment and need a fixed appliance then yes, you will get metal braces.
How do metal braces work?
Metal braces consist of brackets, which are small squares that are stuck to the front of each tooth to act like handles, and archwire that puts pressure on the brackets to slowly move your teeth. Brackets have elastic or metal ties holding the archwire, which is tightened every six to 12 weeks. Springs might also be placed on the archwire to open or close the spaces between your teeth.
How long do I have to wear them?
Usually 18 to 24 months, then retainers must be worn for a further period. It will depend on the complexity of your case, which we will explain to you before treatment starts.
How do I take care of my braces?
You must keep your teeth and braces really clean. Brush your teeth after each meal or snack and floss your teeth every day. Check your teeth in a mirror to make sure all food particles are gone and, if you don’t have your toothbrush with you, rinse your mouth vigorously with water.
Why is good oral hygiene with braces so important?
Food and plaque, the hard substance that ends up on your teeth if bacteria from food isn’t removed, can get trapped in the tiny spaces between braces and wires, causing decay and enamel stains. Food can also react with the bacteria in your mouth and the metal in the braces to produce a bleaching effect, which can cause small, permanent light spots on the teeth. Fluoride mouthwashes reduce the risk of enamel damage — we recommend daily rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash.
What happens if my brace breaks?
Your brace is strong, but it could break if you eat hard, crunchy or sticky foods. Any breakages will prolong your treatment and may have to be paid for because the NHS will charge for lost appliances. If your brace does break, contact your orthodontist at NCOC as soon as possible.
How do braces feel?
The wires that are used to move teeth into position are usually tightened at each visit to the orthodontist, about every six or 12 weeks. This causes pressure on the teeth and some discomfort, and eating soft foods and taking pain killers can help. Also, braces can rub against the inside of the lips. If this is a problem, a special wax can be placed on the wires to protect against chafing.
What can I eat and drink?
You must avoid sweets and sugary snacks. In particular, avoid fizzy drinks, even diet drinks and energy drinks. These foods and drinks can lead to enamel damage so when you have your brace taken off, your beautiful straight teeth could be damaged permanently. Only drink non-carbonated sugar free drinks — water is best. Right after you have your brace fitted or have it adjusted, you may want soft foods or foods that require little chewing.
Can I still play sport?
Yes. With contact sports like rugby and hockey it’s a good idea to wear a mouthguard anyway, but braces increase the risk of injury because they can cut into your lips and the inside of your mouth on impact unless they are covered. Mouthguards are available at NCOC.