Many people have crowded or crooked teeth, or their teeth don't meet correctly when they bite. These problems can mean the teeth are more likely to become damaged or put a strain on jaw muscles.
In some cases, abnormal development of the teeth and jaw can affect the shape of the face.
An Orthodontist is a healthcare professional who specialise in orthodontics. Orthodontics is a type of dentistry that aims to improve the appearance, position and function of crooked or out-of-place teeth.
Orthodontics uses devices such as a brace to correct the position of the teeth. The exact treatment will depend on the problems with your child’s teeth. In some cases, they may have to wear headgear at night as well as a brace, and may also need to have some teeth removed as part of their treatment.
Your child may need orthodontic treatment if their teeth or jaw do not develop in a normal way. This could include including having crowded or overlapping teeth or having problems with jaw growth and tooth development. These tooth and jaw problems may be caused by tooth decay, losing baby teeth too soon, accidents, or habits like thumb sucking. These problems also can be genetic or inherited, meaning that they run in a person's family. These problems can cause discomfort and make it hard to maintain good oral hygiene. In some cases, the shape of the face is also affected, which could cause psychological and emotional problems, such as lack of self-confidence.
In most cases, your child will be referred to an orthodontist by your dentist. If they recommend orthodontic treatment you may have to decide whether to have treatment privately or on the NHS.
NHS orthodontic treatment is free for people under the age of 18 with a clear clinical need for treatment. However, due to high demand there can be a long waiting list for NHS orthodontic treatment.
If your child does not qualify for free NHS treatment, or you don't want to wait for treatment to start, you may choose to have private treatment. Private treatment is widely available but can be expensive, with an average fee of between £2,000 and £6,000.
Going to visit an orthodontist is similar to visiting your dentist, this may take place at the dentist’s practice or at your local hospital.
Your child will sit in a dentist chair and the orthodontic technician or assistant might take X-rays or computer pictures of their mouth and teeth. The X-rays and pictures show the orthodontist where the teeth are positioned and whether they have teeth that haven't come in yet.
The technician or orthodontist also may make a mould (or impression) of your child’s teeth by pressing a tray of gooey material into your child’s top and bottom teeth. A mould helps the orthodontist decide how to straighten your child’s teeth.
The orthodontist will examine your child’s teeth, mouth, and jaws. He or she may ask your child to open wide or bite your teeth together and might ask questions about whether they have problems chewing or swallowing or whether their jaws ever click or pop when they open their mouth.
The orthodontist may tell you that their teeth and jaws are fine, or recommend that they begin treatment.