Orthodontic treatments are dental procedures that help to straighten teeth and correct problems with your bite. These treatments are performed by an orthodontist, who is a specialist dentist. Orthodontists treat children, teenagers and adults. Learn what to expect from orthodontic treatment here.
When might you need orthodontic treatment?
You might need orthodontic treatment for:
- crooked teeth
- a bad bite, which is how your upper and lower jaws meet when you close your mouth
- gaps between your teeth
- problems with speaking, breathing or chewing
- teeth that stick out.
An orthodontist can also assess children’s developing teeth and jaws, and help manage thumb or finger-sucking habits.
What happens during orthodontic treatment?
The orthodontist will probably talk to you and examine your mouth and face. You might be asked to have X-rays or have plaster models of your teeth made.
Your orthodontist will discuss the treatment they recommend for you. Treatment often involves using appliances called braces to straighten crooked teeth or to correct problems with your bite.
There are many different types of braces, including the traditional metal type. Other types include clear or tooth-coloured braces, braces you wear on the inside surface of your teeth and clear, removable ‘aligners’.
Wearing braces might feel strange in the beginning. If your discomfort doesn’t disappear, tell your orthodontist. They might be able to make adjustments.
How long does orthodontic treatment take?
Treatment usually takes about two years. You will probably need to see the orthodontist regularly to get checked.
Many people will then need to wear some sort of device to keep their teeth in position for some years, or for the rest of their life. Teeth tend to move back to their original position over time. The device might be used only at night, or it might be used permanently. You can discuss this with the orthodontist.
Cost of orthodontic treatment
The cost of treatment will vary depending on the situation. Ask your orthodontist for a quote so that you know what to expect. It's a good idea to check if the quote covers:
- pre-treatment reviews and orthodontic record-taking
- orthodontic appliances
- post-treatment reviews.
If you have health insurance, check whether you can claim some costs.
Benefits and risks of orthodontic treatment
Orthodontic treatment can help improve appearance as well as your bite. It can also help if you have problems with speaking, breathing and chewing. Having straight teeth can prevent damage from a bad bite and make it easier for you to clean your teeth.
However, orthodontic treatment takes a long time and can be costly. As with anything new, it may take you some time to adjust to wearing braces and to learn how to take care of your appliance.
Last reviewed: March 2017