Newpark Clinic

Orthodontic FAQs

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How do braces move teeth?

Braces use steady gentle pressure to gradually move the teeth into their proper position. Fixed braces or ‘train tracks’ have little buttons called ‘brackets’ which can be made from metal (or sometimes from clear ceramic material) that are placed on each tooth and a wire then connects them all together. This wire is called an ‘arch-wire’ and when it is tied into each individual bracket, it gradually moves the teeth to fit along the original shape of the wire.

The initial deflection of the wire when it is tied onto your teeth is transient and as the wire gradually returns to its original shape, it has the ability to move the teeth into the same curved shape as the wire. The braces can be made of metal, ceramic or clear plastic. They are sometimes removable but are generally fixed to your teeth. The constant gentle force that the appliance exerts on your teeth can carefully and predictably direct your teeth in a controlled fashion towards their ideal position.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

This depends on the position and stage of development of your teeth, jaw and face. In general though, treatment times are reduced as the latest technologies allow treatment to be easier and faster. The average time is 12-18 months, however treatments can range from 4-30 months depending on: 

  1. The complexity of the problem
  2. The stage of jaw growth
  3. Large variation in each individual’s response of the teeth
  4. Compliance for example, wearing elastics as prescribed (these are sometimes necessary to allow complete correction of the bite towards the end of treatment)

Treatment duration would increase if you miss many appointments or if you damage your brace by eating very crunchy or hard foods.

How much do braces cost?

The cost of orthodontic treatment will depend on many factors, including the complexity of the problem and the length of treatment. The fees for each treatment option will be explained at the consultation visit. We also provide a number of payment methods.

The cost of orthodontic treatment varies greatly. It can begin from €200 for localised problems and increases for the very complex treatments. Most treatments are within €3,000 to €5,000 range. You will be given a detailed quotation and a breakdown of our available payment options at your first consultation/visit.

To suit our patients’ needs, a financial arrangement can be made to extend your payments interest-free over the period of active treatment following an initial down-payment. Alternatively, some prefer to make full payment at the beginning of treatment, we will then offer a 5% book-keeping discount. All our treatments are eligible up to a 20% Med II refund. We also offer immediate family discounts. 

What age is a good time to schedule an appointment?

If you would like to improve your smile and are keen to correct your teeth, then any age is a good time to visit us for a first consultation. At age 7, several permanent teeth have erupted and it is at this stage that the American Association of Orthodontists recommend a quick screening exam with the orthodontist to look out for any growth problems with the teeth or jaws. Treatment success can be optimised by timing the treatment to coincide with the pubertal growth spurts which would allow maximum improvement to the problem.

Early intervention in severe cases can potentially avoid the need for jaw surgery later in life. Most patients assessed at age 7 do not need any intervention before all permanent teeth are present. So although only a few orthodontic problems need to be corrected at an early age, the early exam will allow Dr. O’Donnell to guide you as to when is best to start treatment and maybe to also help in the cessation of any habits. Intervention and early orthodontic treatment between ages 7 to 10 would be indicated if it was necessary to:

  • Correct cross bites
  • Manage problematic eruption of teeth
  • Correct incisal protrusion with a functional appliance if there is a significant risk of: Psychological distress and teasing by peers or accidental damage from falling, sport or daily activities. So the benefits of early intervention for the small number of patients who require it allow:
    • Jaw growth to be influenced positively
    • Improved eruption of the teeth
    • Reduction in the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth
    • Preserve and gain space for the permanent teeth that have yet to erupt
    • Lower the trauma risk to the front teeth
    • Help correct thumb digit sucking habits
    • Harmonise the co-ordination of the upper and lower jaws
    • Improve aesthetics and therefore self-esteem

So, early detection and prompt treatment will shorten and perhaps avoid the need for later comprehensive orthodontic treatment. However, most children are treated from age 12 onwards once we have established that the growth and development of the face, jaws and teeth are all progressing normally.

Do braces hurt?

Having the braces fitted is straightforward and not at all painful. However, you may feel some soreness or discomfort for a couple of days after the braces are placed and again following your routine adjustments every 6-8 weeks.

The first day your braces are fitted is generally focused on giving your lips and cheeks time to become accustomed to having an attachment permanently bonded to the tooth surface. Your lips and cheeks will toughen up after a number of days, however they can feel irritated for the first 3-4 days after the initial placement of the brace. This can be eased by the placement of specialist orthodontic wax to reduce the rubbing tendency, we will give you this special wax and demonstrate how to do this on the day your braces are fitted.

Once the teeth begin to move, you will notice a general soreness in your mouth which may last for up to 3 - 5 days. About a third of our patients are quite aware of this ‘ache’ and for these individuals, we suggest you take a Paracetamol or Nurofen for the day (s) that your teeth are tender. You may also find that your teeth feel loose, don’t worry this is completely normal and is a necessary part of treatment so that they can be moved to a better position. The teeth will firm up once again once we stop the movement when they have reached their corrected position.

What are the risks of braces?
  1. Brushing your teeth when you are wearing braces is more difficult. Inadequate oral hygiene (tooth brushing/ flossing)especially if combined with a high sugar intake can lead to weak spots or cavities on your teeth and swollen and bleeding gums.
  2. The roots of your teeth tend to shorten when moved by a brace. This is unlikely to cause a problem unless you happen to be born with very short or slender roots. Occasionally teeth can die if they are unable to cope with the pressures of movement by the brace. It is impossible to predict this, often it can be linked to a previous traumatic incident when the tooth was weakened by a fall or from a sports injury. However, sometimes it can occur in a tooth with no recalled history. Any subsequent treatment would generally be to resolve the discolouration that can occur when a tooth dies and root treatment would be carried out by your family dentist.
  3. Some people who have very thin gums may be at risk of further recession, particularly if the gums are not kept meticulously clean throughout the treatment.
  4. You must maintain the teeth in their corrected position once we remove the braces. We provide you with retainers to wear in bed. They are often a combination of a fixed (invisible) retainer glued to the inside of your 4 front teeth, supplemented by a plastic retainer which you wear in bed at night. Some people prefer to avoid the wire inside their teeth and instead commit to wearing the plastic retainer as necessary at night following the removal of the fixed braces.
How often will I have appointments?

Generally, the appointments are every 6 weeks, occasional shorter or longer intervals will be advised depending on the type of work that is been carried out.

Do you do 6 month braces?

The Two Questions That I Am Asked Almost From New Patients Everyday Are: 

1. Am I suitable for cosmetic orthodontics?

2. Would ‘six month braces’ work on me? 

Over the last few years we have seen an avalanche of “fast”, “short-term”, “6 month smiles” orthodontic terms appear, many of these are being marketed as having some mystical or special powers to move teeth through bone in some fantastically new efficient manner. The term ‘6 month braces’ in my opinion is misleading and confusing. The reality of the situation is that no magical orthodontic brace system exists that can quickly and universally transform teeth and place them in a stable position within a short number of months.

However, it is important to stress that all orthodontic brace systems utilise similar mechanics and materials. If braces could work in a 6 month period than all specialist orthodontists would be more than delighted to offer them to our patients, also, there would be no such thing as a specialist waiting list for ‘x’ number of years in the HSE. Braces can take anywhere from 3 months to over 2 years to satisfactorily complete, a specialist orthodontist doesn’t generally subscribe to the marketing terms for “fast braces” or “6 months smiles” as unfortunately no such panacea exists. The duration of treatment with braces is directly proportional to the complexity of the bite and the expectation for high quality in the finished result. 

Why Should I Visit A Specialist Orthodontist To Get My Braces?

Every specialist orthodontist who has qualified in Ireland and the UK initially qualifies as a dentist and subsequently completes a full-time 3 year degree learning exclusively about the materials, mechanics and biology involved in moving and placing teeth in a stable position that will suit both the patient’s face and the patient’s bite and will last long-term (with an appropriate retainer protocol). This degree of expert knowledge in diagnosis and treatment planning is essential to give you the patient the best possible choices, so you can make the important decision as to what kind of treatment (and therefore outcome) you wish to pursue.

How Do I Know If Someone Is A Specialist Orthodontist?

All specialist orthodontists in Ireland can be found listed on the Specialist Registers on the Irish Dental Council website and also on The Orthodontic Society of Ireland websiteSo, do your research and choose wisely before embarking on your orthodontic treatment. Remember, it is a significant investment of your time, finances and emotions.... you will only want to do it once….so please go to a specialist. Why? because you’re worth it!

Is it necessary to have a referral from my dentist if I wish to book a consultation with you?

No, you can contact us directly and arrange a time to suit yourself. Many of our patients are referred by their family dentist but a significant amount of patients initiate the consultation themselves.

What foods are not advised to eat while I have my braces on?

Patients with braces need to avoid hard, crunchy and sticky foods and sweets as they can easily damaged or distort the brace. This can cause an unwanted change in direction of tooth movement and can actually sometimes cause part of the brace to break off. For example:

  • Tough meats
  • Crusty rolls
  • Crunchy vegetables/fruit
  • Liquorice, toffees caramels, starburst and skittles
  • Ice
  • Nuts
  • Corn on the cob
  • Hard apples and raw carrots (must cut into finely sliced pieces to eat)
  • Hard bagels
  • Crunchy peanut butter
  • Hard pizza bases
  • Fizzy drinks and acidic drinks
  • Chewing pens, pencils and biting nails etc.

Hard foods can break or damage the brackets, sticky foods can get caught between the wire and the bracket and are subsequently difficult to remove with the tooth brush. Sugary foods will cause tooth decay and increase plaque levels which in turn will lead to gum disease and potential bone loss. Ideally drink your fruit juice with a straw to minimise the amount of time the juice is in contact with your enamel.

Some people prefer to eat soft foods such as yogurt or soups following adjustment visits or perhaps just initially when the brace is first applied. Treats such as ice-cream, chocolate bars such as ‘ twirl’ or ‘flake’ can be enjoyed on special occasions followed by a thorough clean!

What happens if I break my brace?

Please telephone us right away and we will arrange a convenient time to see you (01) 210 4588.

How do I brush my teeth when I have braces?

We provide you with a range of specialised toothbrushes, fluoride mouth rinse and flossing aids when your brace is fitted. Ideally you should brush your teeth after each time you eat (i.e. at least three times a day) so that your teeth, gums and mouth remain healthy, fresh and clean. Regular brushing will prevent the build-up of any food and daily flossing will allow you to get in between your teeth where your brush is unable to reach.

It is also important to maintain regular hygiene cleanings with your own or our hygienist (two visits a year).

Do I need to take time off work to accompany my child to each visit appointment?

Other than the initial consultation visit and the day that the braces are fitted, there is no necessity to accompany your child to each visit. We realise that most parents are working and it is not possible to attend as often as you would like. We are of course happy to telephone and speak with parents with treatment updates or answer any questions you may have along the way. The initial consultation usually lasts about 30-40 minutes which provides sufficient time to undertake a comprehensive detailed exam and allow an adequate follow- up discussion with you in a non-rushed manner so as to fully address your concerns and questions.

Do I need to see a hygienist?

Regular hygienist visits should be continued as normal throughout your orthodontic treatment and any adults with a history of gum disease should see their family dentist or a gum specialist to receive the ‘all clear’ before beginning your orthodontic treatment. If you do not have a regular hygienist, we have an experienced hygienist available for you.

If have braces do I still attend my family dentist for check-ups?

Yes in fact, it is probably more important that you continue to visit your dentist regularly whilst receiving treatment from us. With braces in place, food finds it easier to hide in places that your toothbrush cannot reach, this may result in plaque and bacteria build-up which can lead to cavities and gum disease. If you do not have a regular dentist, Dr Paul Mulryan is available for general and cosmetic services.

Can I return to work/ school after my braces are placed on?

Yes, you will not be in any discomfort and your speech will be normal. It generally does feel strange for the first day or so but it is relatively straightforward to adapt and there is no reason why you should depart from your normal routine. Some people prefer to eat softer foods on the day the braces are placed; others adapt very readily and eat as normal, however the avoidance of hard, crunchy and sticky foods begins as soon as the braces are placed.

When should I wear a gum shield?

Gum shields should be worn for any contact sport which may allow significant physical contact between:

Moving objects such as hard balls, rackets, hockey sticks and sailing booms.
Anyone with or without a brace should wear a mouth guard or gum shield over their fixed brace to avoid damage and permanent injury to their teeth and gums. The brace in itself can provide a lot of support to the teeth as it too will help spread the load, however without a mouthguard, it may become embedded inside the lips and cheeks. There are several different types of orthodontic mouth guards specially designed to fit over fixed appliances and we can recommend the best design for you. We supply a full range in our practice and will help you obtain one most appropriate to you. It is important to be aware that some dental insurance plans will not pay out, if damage occurs during contact sports when a mouthguard is not worn.