Treatment modalities

Can I have braces without taking out any teeth?

You have to consult your orthodontist1s opinion on what should be the best treatment option for you. Your orthodontist will make treatment recommendation based on the type of malocclusion you have, your profile and your age. Most of the time, however, extraction of teeth may be necessary if they are crowded.

How do braces feel?

Most people have some discomfort after their braces are first put on or when adjusted during treatment. After the braces are on, teeth may become sore and may be tender to biting pressures for a few days. The orthodontist may prescribe some pain relievers if necessary. The lips, cheeks and tongue may also become irritated for a few weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. Orthodontic wax may be used to cover the braces to reduce the irritation. Overall, orthodontic discomfort is short-lived and easily managed.

How is treatment accomplished?

Dependant on your age and type of problem, your orthodontist will decide the most suitable course of treatment. In a minority of children with a jaw growth problem orthopedic appliances can be used to carefully direct forces to guide the growth and development of jaws in growing patients. However, in the majority of cases, custom-made braces are required, which may be removable or fixed to the teeth. These can either be made of metal, ceramic or plastic. By attaching wire to the brackets, teeth can be moved slowly through the supporting bone to a new desirable position. Nowadays, because of the advances in technology, new 'invisible braces' can be used, but your orthodontist will decide whether these are suitable for your teeth.

I have already lost a tooth on one side, why do I need to take a tooth out on the other side if I want braces?

This is to prevent unwanted effects during orthodontic treatment. The most obvious usually is shifting of centerlines particularly on upper front teeth, which is unsightly. The other thing is to prevent development of asymmetric arch form during orthodontic treatment.

My nephew was told that he needs to wear elastics and headbands with his braces. Is it really necessary?

Elastics are used extensively to either close extraction spaces or to facilitate the relative movement of teeth with respect to one another. Headbands are used to make a section of teeth harder to move against another segment or they be used to move a section of teeth. Another important use is to effect what we called skeletal movement to modify skeletal growth direction. At the end if your orthodontist requires you to wear elastics and headbands, just listen to his/her advice.