Classroom of children asking questions

General FAQs

Our team members will be happy to answer any questions you may have. We allow plenty of time for discussion.

Some common questions are answered below, click on the question to find the answer:

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry which specialises in the diagnosis and management of irregularities of the teeth, jaws and face. Braces are used to apply gentle pressure to move teeth into better positions until they are straight.

In a growing patient, braces can also be used to help correct in-balances in jaw relationships and improve a patient’s appearance.

Young couple with healthy teeth smiling

What are the benefits of orthodontic treatment?

The main benefit is to improve your personal appearance. Many patients report that their self-esteem and confidence are also improved as a result. In addition, the teeth may bite together better and straight teeth are easier to clean, which can help keep them healthy.

Do I need braces?

Usually it will be fairly obvious if you require braces to straighten your teeth as your teeth will appear crooked, overcrowded or the bite may not feel right. Braces can also correct prominent or ‘gappy’ teeth, or teeth that grow in the wrong place. Your dentist is trained to recognise orthodontic problems that may not be so obvious and, depending on the findings at your check-up, may refer you to us as appropriate.

Is there an alternative to braces?

Unlike crowns and veneers, orthodontics is relatively non-invasive, and so avoids the irreversible, extensive drilling of tooth tissue often found with ‘extreme makeover’ dentistry. In addition, so long as retainers are worn as advised, there should be no need for further orthodontic treatment in the future. Crowns and veneers will usually need replacing after a number of years. However, it really does depend on each individual case,so the orthodontist and dentist will advise whether braces, conventional dentistry or a combination of the two approaches are a good choice for you.

What is the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?

Compared to regular dentists, an orthodontic specialist has received at least a further three years comprehensive training solely in orthodontics, and has passed arduous exams with the Royal College of Surgeons. As such, the orthodontist is best placed to advise on and treat a whole range of problems. They are also able to offer a number of different solutions for you to choose, rather than being restricted to just one brace system. A general dentist will refer work which is beyond his/her ability and training.

Does the dentist have to refer me first?

For children, your dentist will refer you when most of the adult teeth have grown through. The timing of this varies, but is usually after the age of 10 years. Your dentist is trained to recognise when it is the right time to make an orthodontic referral.

For adult patients or children who wish to be seen on a private basis, you do not need to be referred by a dentist. Simply contact us and we will arrange an initial assessment appointment for you. However, we strongly advise you are registered with a general dentist to look after your general dental health. The orthodontist will keep you and your dentist fully informed about your treatment.

Should I still visit my dentist during treatment?

Yes. Your orthodontist will not carry out routine dental care. In order to keep your teeth and gums healthy during treatment, it is important to keep seeing your dentist regularly.

When should I have braces?

Comprehensive treatment does not usually start until most of the adult teeth have come through. This does not usually happen until the patient has reached 10 years of age or more, although NHS waiting lists mean that treatment is often provided later than this. Occasionally we do treat younger patients if there is a clear clinical need and benefit. There is no upper age limit to having braces. Adults can be treated as well as children and teenagers.

Middle aged woman wearing braces

Am I too old for braces?

No. More and more adults are seeking treatment. Improvements in techniques and materials including braces that are less visible than the traditional "train tracks" have made adult orthodontics increasingly popular.

What different types of braces are there?

At Rainford Orthodontics we have a range of modern appliances and techniques for you to choose from. These include traditional removable and fixed metal braces, along with less visible options such as clear ceramic braces on the front of the teeth, Invisalign clear removable clear aligners and lingual braces fitted behind the teeth. Please refer to our treatments section.

Can I choose which type of brace I have?

The orthodontist will advise on the types of braces best suited to your particular needs. If you do have a preference please let us know at your initial visit, as we always try to tailor treatment to suit you. Invisible braces are only available on a private basis.

Can I choose colours for my brace?

Yes. Standard fixed metal braces have small elastic components which hold the wire in. These elastics can be plain or coloured and can be changed throughout treatment.

Can I have less visible braces?

Tooth coloured ceramic braces can be used to make the brace less noticeable. We also offer Invisalign clear removable aligners and lingual braces which are hidden because they are fitted to the back of the teeth rather than the front. These appliances are available on a private basis. See our treatments section for more details.

I have been declined treatment on the NHS, can I still have braces?

If your teeth are not severe enough for NHS treatment you can be treated on a private basis if your orthodontist feels you will get some benefit.

Do I have to have braces if I don’t want them?

In general, it is up to you to decide. However, the orthodontist will advise you about any risks that may occur if you don’t have a brace.

How long does treatment take?

This depends on your particular problem. Most treatments take between 6 and 30 months. You will be given an estimate of treatment length at your initial visit.

How often will I need to come to the practice?

Once your treatment starts, you will usually visit us every 8-10 weeks.

Young women smiling wearing braces

Can I still play sports?

Yes. If you have a removable brace, functional appliance or removable retainers then you should remove these whilst playing any contact sports such as hockey & rugby etc. You also should take them out for swimming.

If you have a fixed brace then we advise you also wear a mouth guard over the top of the appliance to protect your brace and teeth. You can buy these from us at the practice.

Will I still be able to play a wind instrument?

With some practice you should be able to carry on as before. Read further advice for musicians

What are the risks of treatment?

So long as the teeth and braces are looked after properly, the risks are small. The main risk is damage to the teeth and surrounding gums. This can be decalcification damage to the enamel causing permanent marks; swollen, bleeding gums or tooth decay. These are generally caused by poor brace care i.e. not cleaning well enough and eating/drinking things we recommend you should avoid. Tooth roots also get slightly shorter during treatment, but usually this is minimal and has no long-term effects. If any of these problems occur, then your orthodontist would inform you and help you to overcome these problems. If these problems continue then we would advise you to stop the orthodontic treatment to save the health of your teeth. For further information download our ‘What are the risks?’ guide

Will I need to have any teeth out?

Maybe. In order to straighten the teeth it is sometimes necessary have teeth removed to make enough space. However, this is always avoided whenever it is thought possible. The majority of adults are treated without the need for extractions. If extractions are needed, then usually your own dentist will do this.

Do braces hurt?

Having your braces fitted does not hurt. However, when the braces start to move your teeth, your teeth can feel uncomfortable and tender to bite on for up to 4 to 5 days. This can be overcome by taking any painkiller that you would normally take to relieve a headache. E.g Paracetomol, Ibuprofen. When taking tablets, always check the packet for instructions on use and your own medical history first.

Will having my braces adjusted hurt?

Having your brace adjusted does not usually hurt. However, your braces will feel tighter afterwards and this can make your teeth ache for a couple of days. Any pain is normally relieved by painkillers. When taking tablets, always check the packet for instructions on use and your own medical history first.

What should I do if I lose or break my brace?

This is not an "emergency" in the true sense of the word. However, if you lose or damage your brace we do advise that you contact the clinic as soon as you can so we can arrange an appointment to correct it. Please do not wait until your next routine appointment. If the brace is not stuck to your teeth then it is not working. Broken brackets will feel loose and slide along the brace wire. A charge will apply for removable braces that are lost or broken beyond repair. If you break your brace then your treatment could take longer to complete, and although we understand that accidents sometimes happen, continual breakages may mean we have to stop treatment.

Dental braces case

The brace feels sharp. What should I do?

It is common for braces to feel sharp after they are first fitted, until the mouth adapts to it. To overcome this, we will give you some soft orthodontic wax to place over any sharp bits. Dry the area first, then roll up the wax in to a ball and place it on the sharp bit. If you run out of wax, you can get some more from the practice, or use the wax coating from Edam cheese or a Baby-Bel instead. If this does not solve the problem, contact the practice and we can fix it for you. If you cannot get to the practice, for example if you are away on holiday, a pair of nail cutters can snip a loose piece of the thinner wires we use.

What foods and drinks should I avoid while wearing braces?

It is essential that you avoid hard, chewy sticky foods like sweets and chewing gum as these can break your brace.

Fizzy drinks and concentrated fruit juices should also be avoided because the acid in these drinks help to break down the enamel and attack the tooth surface around your brace causing unsightly scars on your teeth which do not come off.

Hard foods such as apples, raw carrots/veg, French bread, pizza crust etc should be cut up and chewed with your back teeth instead of biting straight into them.

We also ask you to not bite your nails or chew pen tops etc, as these habits will damage your brace and extend the treatment time.

For some brace friendly recipes see our Resources.

How do I keep my brace clean?

It is important to keep your teeth and braces really clean. Braces can trap plaque and food debris which, if not removed, can damage your teeth and gums. We will show you how to clean your braces once they are fitted. We also provide a pack which has everything in it you need to look after your teeth and braces. This can be purchased at the practice. For further information see our Brace Care FAQs.

Will I need to wear headgear?

Headgear is a special head-cap and/or neck-strap worn at night which attaches to the brace and helps move the teeth. We seldom if ever use headgear at the practice. Although only occasionally necessary, using newer techniques such as special mini "tacks" temporarily placed painlessly in the gum, we can almost always avoid the need for headgear.

What is a retainer?

Once the teeth are straight, retainers are used to hold them in the new position. Without retainers, your teeth would move back again. They are usually removable clear covers, worn at night although occasionally we will also provide fixed on retainers behind the teeth if deemed clinically necessary.

How long do I need to wear retainers for?

For as long as you want your teeth to remain straight. Retainers are usually only worn at night and the amount you need to wear them will reduce with time. However, as your teeth will always have the tendency to move a little throughout your life, we recommend you keep wearing the retainers, to some extent, for the long term.

Piggybank savings

How much does private orthodontic treatment cost?

The cost depends on the problem being corrected and the type of brace you choose. Further information is available in our fee guide.

What are the benefits of private treatment?

There is no age limit to having an attractive smile. This means adults can be treated as well as children. We also offer a wider choice of treatments including braces that are virtually invisible. All problems can be treated, including those not covered by the NHS and there are no waiting lists. In addition, we have affordable payment plans to spread the cost of your treatment; with 0% finance available, no deposit required and the option to spread your payments over as much as 5 years* (Subject to status, terms and conditions apply).

Invisalign, DW Lingual Systems GmbH, Incognito, British Orthodontic Society, British Lingual Orthodontic Society, General Dental Council, BDA Good Practice Member Invisalign, DW Lingual Systems GmbH, Incognito, British Orthodontic Society, British Lingual Orthodontic Society, General Dental Council, BDA Good Practice Member
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