How Orthodontics is Done

There are a number of methods for treating orthodontic problems. Your dentist or orthodontist will determine which method will work best for you.

1. Braces

The dentist or orthodontist will often use braces for orthodontic treatment. There are four parts to braces:

  1. The bracket or band (the metal ring) that is attached to each tooth
  2. The cement or bonding material that attaches the bracket or band to each tooth
  3. The arch wire that fits into all the brackets
  4. Elastics or wire ties that hold the wire into the bracket or band

Most of the time, brackets, bands and arch wires are made of metal, but brackets and elastics can also be clear, tooth-coloured or multi-coloured.

Your dentist or orthodontist may suggest other treatments before, during or after braces are put on the teeth. Other ways to solve your orthodontic problem that do not include braces may be suggested.

2. Headgear

Headgear is used to guide the direction of tooth movement and/or jaw growth in someone who is still growing. Headgear may be worn before braces are applied, or during any part of orthodontic treatment. There are different types of headgear. The patient inserts the headgear and in most cases, wears it during the evening and at night. Your orthodontist or dentist will show you how to insert headgear, and tell you how long to wear it each day.

3. Removable appliances

Removable appliances are not as precise as braces, but they can move a tooth or a group of teeth and are fitted by a dentist or orthodontist. They can be worn:

  • Before braces are put on
  • While braces are worn or
  • On their own to treat specific orthodontic problems

4. Retainers

Retainers keep teeth in the right place once braces have been removed. Retainers can be attached to the teeth or they may be removable. Your orthodontist or dentist will tell you if you have to wear your retainer all the time or for part of each day.

5. Oral surgery

Tooth removal may be needed if teeth are crowded, or if a tooth (or teeth) is badly out of position.

Jaw surgery (or orthognathic surgery) may be needed when there are major differences in the size or position of the upper and lower jaws. It helps the upper and lower jaws line up. If your orthodontist thinks you will need jaw surgery, he or she will refer you to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.