Almost two thirds of us are unhappy with our teeth according to a recent survey and half of us notice if others have bad gnashers.
But once you get past those awkward teenage years when you sort of accept having to grow into your changing body, the thought of getting braces can be terrifying. The dental industry is growing, but many of us are opting for the quick-fix option of
at home whitening, or a promised “six-month smile makeover” using clear aligners such as Invisalign rather than conventional train tracks.
In Canary Wharf we know the importance of fast results but we also want quality.
Laura Enfield went down to Smilepod in Canary Wharf to ask Dr Margi Bansal about becoming a 30-something braceface.
Fixed braces can give faster, better results
“Fixed braces are more equipped for creating all sorts of complex movements that Invisalign might not be able to do,” said Dr Bansal.
“For example turning round teeth, making teeth longer, and paralleling roots in extraction cases, making them more efficient and faster. Aligners are more suited for mild to moderate cases and about 7 out of 10 cases I see are unsuitable for Invisalign.”
You don’t have to remember to put them in and out
People often opt for aligners as they can pop them out for eating and teeth brushing which can seem an attractive option.
But they still need to be in for 23 hours a day so you have to be disciplined. With fixed braces your orthodontist is doing most of the work 24/7 without you having to worry about doing anything.
You are more likely to be in the hands of an expert
Orthodontists are trained for two-to-three years for braces whereas training for Invisalign is generally only three days.
Dr Bansal said: “90% of dentists rely on video sent by Invisalign to plan the case and have no idea on how to achieve good results.”
Methods are improving all the time
Dr Bansal said: “The option of white coated wires with clear braces have made them almost invisible.
“Many new designs for brackets have come up. One of the most exciting new treatment philosophies to emerge in recent years is a unique method of indirect bonding combined with the use of custom-designed brackets and wires.
You can see results in the first month
Minor crookedness can be corrected within a few weeks. Once teeth are straight your orthodontist will then start work to close up gaps between them, line up the tops of uneven teeth and correct any issues you may have with your bite.
Straight teeth can improve your health
Dr Bansal said: “Crowded teeth can be very difficult to keep clean and may result in tooth decay, gum disease, bleeding or receding gums.
“Correctly aligned bite is important for chewing efficiently so incorrect bite can cause abnormal tooth wear, jaws aches and pain. They can also undermine your confidence.”
You no longer have to have those horrid metal brackets around your back teeth
Dr Bansal said: “Bands encircling back teeth is a thing of past. We used to manually weld the buccal tubes (used to anchor the wire) on the bands and then cement them in a patient’s mouth.
“As things advanced that became unnecessary. It also means you don’t get the residual spaces that used to be left when the bands were removed.”
There is no age limit for braces
Dr Bansal said: ”Age is no bar for braces but personally my oldest client if I remember correctly was in their late 50s. Most of my Canary Wharf patients are 20-40 years.”
They are uncomfortable to fit
You will have to have moulds taken of your teeth using chunky plastic trays and your lips stretched apart for ‘before’ photographs. You will most likely dribble on yourself and could end up with a split lip if you don’t apply lip balm beforehand.
The fitting itself can take 30-60 minutes and goes more quickly if you relax and work with the orthodontist to move your mouth into the right positions.
Off white brackets are glued to your teeth and a pre-shaped, silver wire pushed into grooves and held in place with tiny elastic bands. You will go back every month to have the wires readjusted which takes 20-30 minutes so can easily be done on your lunch break.
There will be moments of minor discomfort or pain
Your orthodontist will get you to check for any sharp bits before you leave and will give you wax to squish onto your braces if they start to rub your mouth. This will happen more in the first month and is more likely if you don’t keep your mouth well hydrated. Your teeth will ache as they start to move too.
You won’t be able to eat curry or drink red wine
At first you will probably only be able to manage soup, stews or other soft, mushy foods as chewing will put too much pressure on your tender teeth.
However after the first week or so you can eat most things if cut into small chunks first. However curries, red wine or any food that stains your clothes are a big no, no as they will also stain the elastic bands yellow almost instantly making them more visible.
You will have to spend longer brushing
Food will get caught in your braces which can look and feel pretty unpleasant.
Teeth should be cleaned after every meal to reduce the risk of decay and gum disease and for five minutes every morning and night.
It’s a life-long commitment
Once braces are removed most people will need a fixed retainer fitted on the back of their teeth to prevent any movement in the future. This will always require extra cleaning (yet more brushing) to prevent plaque build up.
However it can’t be seen even when you smile and means you can relax knowing your teeth will remain lovely and straight. A price worth paying, perhaps.
A minimum of six months is usually required for minor cases with extra time allowed for a couple of tweaks requested by the patient at the end. Complicated cases can take up to three years to complete.
Initial appointment: Takes around 30-40 minutes and the orthodontist will talk about what you want to achieve and take x-rays, photos and impressions for plaster models of your teeth. These will be used to plan your treatment and determine whether any teeth need extracting.
Second visit: Takes around 20-30 minutes. Your orthodontist will explain the treatment plan and the braces suitable for your condition and talk through the costs. They will often take before photographs of your teeth. You will then need to visit your dentist for a check-up to make sure there are no issues with your teeth.
Third visits: Takes 40-60 minutes. Your braces will be fitted with the brackets bonded onto your teeth and the first wire fitted.
Subsequent visits: Take 20-30 minutes and are every 4-8 weeks. Adjustments are made to the braces by way of wire-changes, adding springs, elastics or other accessories.
Costs vary at Smilepod between £1,995 and £5,995, depending on the treatment and method.
Monthly payment plans are available to spread the cost.
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