Frequently Asked Questions

When should a child first see an orthodontist?

Most children see an Orthodontist for the first time following referral from their General Dentist. This is often when the child still has some of their baby teeth or can be when all the adult teeth are present. The General Dentist will assess this at their six monthly general check-ups and decide the best time for the referral.

What does orthodontic treatment cost?

All children under the age of 18 are entitled to have free orthodontic treatment on the NHS if they meet the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Needs (IOTN) which is the criteria that General Dentists and Orthodontists use for assessing if a patient is suitable for treatment under the NHS. If the NHS criteria are met, there will be no charges to the family/guardian except for care packs which are strongly advised. The NHS will not charge for the supply and fitting of retainers at the end of treatment, but there will be a charge for any lost or damaged appliances needing replacement. For full details regarding this section, please refer to your NHS England Contract.

What kind of braces are there for NHS treatment?

Fixed braces are the most common type of treatment used in NHS orthodontics, but they can be combined with other treatments in a two-stage treatment plan which may involve either extractions or the use of a removable appliance or headgear. Brackets used for NHS treatment are stainless steel. All treatment will be followed by retainers which must be worn as part of the agreed treatment plan.

What kind of braces are there for Private treatment?

Options for private orthodontic treatment and appliances will be discussed following a thorough assessment to ensure the best possible treatment option is offered for each patient’s needs. We may use regular stainless-steel brackets, clear ceramic brackets or often clear plastic 'aligners'.

How do I choose which type of brace to have?

Under both private and NHS treatment, it will be the Orthodontist who will recommend what type of brace a patient should wear. The Orthodontist will listen to any patient or parent concerns, but it is ultimately their clinical judgement and decision which will inform the suggested treatment plan.

I don't want to wear the metal braces, what are my options?

Metal braces are the only choice for fixed appliances on the NHS – any other tooth-coloured orthodontic treatment would need to be discussed on a private basis only. You cannot combine private and NHS treatment. Please inform the orthodontist if you wish to consider the private options available.

Will I need to have teeth extracted?

For certain cases the Orthodontist will recommend that teeth are extracted as part of the treatment plan. This may be baby teeth or sometimes adult teeth. The decision depends entirely on the type of problem that the patient has and a decision can only be reached after a detailed case assessment. Each treatment plan is tailored to the exact needs of the patient with no two cases being the same. If you have any worries or concerns about your treatment plan, it is important to ring the Practice to arrange for a review appointment with the Orthodontist to chat this through. Once treatment is agreed, a letter will be written by the Orthodontist to the General Dentist informing them of the treatment plan and detailing the teeth to be extracted. An appointment for any extractions by the General Dentist can only be made after the extraction letter has been received from Hinchley Wood Practice.

How long will treatment take?

Very simple straightening can often be carried out in as short a time as six months, but normally orthodontic treatment takes between one and two years depending on how complex the case is and patient compliance. Some treatment plans involve more than one phase of active treatment and these may take more time to complete. Retainers will be needed at the end of any treatment and they must be worn long term to ensure that the final positions of the teeth do not relapse.

Is treatment painful?

A degree of discomfort is likely to start with and this varies for each patient. There can be some aching and tenderness in the gums as the teeth start to move but this usually wears off very quickly. There can also be some slight discomfort for some patients after routine appointments when their braces are adjusted. The instructions and items in the care pack that you will be advised to buy when you start treatment will help with any problems such as sore gums and the sharp ends of wires, and extra supplies can be purchased at any time during treatment if needed.

How often will I need an appointment?

Routine appointments will normally be every four to six weeks throughout treatment. Emergency appointments will occasionally need to be made and it is essential the patient or parent rings the Practice as soon as possible so that a suitable appointment can be made. Private patients using aligners may need to attend more frequently at certain stages during their treatment.

Can I have 'colours' on the brace?

All patients are given the opportunity to choose from a large range of colours at each appointment.

Do I need to see my own dentist during orthodontic treatment?

It is essential that all patients continue to see their General Dentist regularly during orthodontic treatment. Your regular visits to the Orthodontist are not the same as a routine dental check-up and it is important to maintain a high level of general dental care during orthodontic treatment. If the Orthodontist has any concerns regarding general dental issues, they will discuss this with you and inform your dentist.

Should treatment be started if I am moving away?

Probably not, but this must be discussed with the Orthodontist prior to starting any treatment. Once orthodontic treatment has started, it is best to avoid changing if possible as orthodontists all work in different ways with different appliances. Transfer will almost inevitably mean a setback in the progress of your treatment.

What happens when my braces are removed - will I need retainers?

After the completion of treatment, it is essential that retainers are worn. The Orthodontist will explain this to each patient, ensuring that they understand the importance of wearing their retainers as instructed. Review appointments will be made after this to supervise retention, and the retainers must be brought to each appointment. After one year of retention the patient will be discharged. Any appointments after discharge will be on a private basis only. The possibility of Fixed Wire Retainers can be discussed with the Orthodontist. These are only available on a private basis with charges for fitting and any repairs that may become necessary.

What can go wrong with braces?

Occasionally, there can be problems as a result of having orthodontic treatment, but most of these are easily avoidable. Most commonly there can be issues with the gums which are usually due to poor oral hygiene. Tooth movement after treatment has been completed can also be an issue, but this is usually due to the patient not wearing their retainers as recommended. Any concerns you have during treatment must be discussed with the Orthodontist as soon as possible.

What questions should I ask my orthodontist or dentist?

It is important to write down any questions you may have so that you don't forget to mention anything you are worried about. You will be provided with detailed information leaflets at each stage of your treatment which should provide you with all the answers, but please ask if you are not sure.