Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specialises in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
The practice of orthodontics involves the design, application and control of corrective appliances (braces) to bring the teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment, thus achieving facial balance.
Orthodontic treatment is generally best carried out in children but adults can have orthodontic treatment too, with more and more choosing to do so.
Orthodontic braces can be of several different types. Simple treatment can be carried out with a removable appliance (a plate that can be taken out to be cleaned). It has delicate wires and springs attached which move the teeth using gentle pressure. It is sometimes possible to change the way that the jaws grow using functional appliances which utilise the power of your jaw muscles.
Often teeth need to be guided more accurately than they can be using a removable appliance, and in these cases a fixed appliance can be used. Fixed appliances have brackets and bands temporarily attached to the teeth. A flexible wire is attached which joins all the brackets together and allows the teeth to move.
Eligibility for NHS Orthodontics
Only patients aged eighteen and below and have a dental health need for orthodontics as determined by the IOTN (Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need) are eligible for NHS treatment. Those patients that do not meet those criteria can still have orthodontic treatment, but on a private basis only. Your dentist will provide an assessment and inform you if you qualify for NHS orthodontics.