Whilst recognising the benefits of healthy teeth and a pleasing smile, you should also be aware that orthodontic treatment has limitations and potential risks.
These are seldom enough to avoid treatment, but should be considered in making the decision to undergo orthodontic treatment. Orthodontic treatment usually proceeds as planned; however, response to treatment and results cannot be guaranteed.
Orthodontics plays an important role in improving overall oral health. Orthodontics also helps create balance and harmony between the teeth and face for a beautiful, healthy smile. An attractive smile enhances one's self esteem, which may actually improve the quality of life itself. Properly aligned teeth are easier to brush, and thereby may decrease the tendency to decay, or to develop diseases of the gum and supporting bone.
Because of the individual conditions present and the limitations of treatment imposed by nature, each specific benefit may not be attainable for every patient. The unknown factor in any orthodontic correction is the treatment response and cooperation of the patient during orthodontic treatment.
All forms of medical and dental treatment, including orthodontics, have some risks and limitations. Fortunately, in orthodontics complications are infrequent and when they do occur they are usually of minor consequence. Nevertheless, they should be considered when making the decision to undergo orthodontic treatment. The major risks involved in orthodontic treatment may include, but are not limited to:
(Permanent enamel markings) Tooth decay, gum disease, and permanent markings (decalcification) on the teeth can occur if orthodontic patients consume foods or drinks containing excessive sugar and/or acid (eg, sweets, fizzy drinks, diluting juice, etc). This tooth scarring also occurs if patients do not brush their teeth frequently and properly. These same problems can occur without orthodontic treatment, but the risk is greater to an individual wearing braces.
In some patients the length of the roots may be shortened during orthodontic treatment. Some patients are prone to this happening, some are not. Usually this does not have significant consequences, but on occasion it may become a threat to the longevity of the teeth involved. Previous trauma to teeth, nail biting or even pen chewing may exacerbate root shortening.
Periodontal health (health of the bone and gums which support the teeth) may be affected by orthodontic tooth movement if there is already a pre-existing condition, but also may occur in some rare cases where a condition does not appear to exist. In general, orthodontic treatment lessens the possibility of tooth loss or gum infection due to misalignment of the teeth or jaws. Periodontal disease (inflammation of the gums and loss of supporting bone) can occur if plaque is not removed daily with good oral hygiene.
Teeth may have a tendency to change their positions after orthodontic treatment. This usually is only a minor change and faithful wearing of retainers as instructed should help reduce this tendency. Throughout life the bite can change adversely from various causes, such as: eruption of wisdom teeth, growth and/or maturational changes, mouth breathing, playing of musical instruments and other oral habits, all of which may be out of the control of the orthodontist.
Occasionally problems may occur in the jaw joints, i.e. temporomandibular joints (TMJ), causing joint pain, headaches or ear problems. These problems may occur with or without orthodontic treatment and may worsen, improve, or stay the same during orthodontic treatment.
Sometimes a tooth may have been traumatized by a previous accident or a tooth may have large fillings, which can cause damage to the nerve of the tooth. Orthodontic tooth movement may in some cases aggravate this condition and in rare instances may lead to loss of vitality and possible root canal treatment.
After adjustment of your brace, tenderness should be expected, and the period of tenderness or sensitivity varies with each patient and the procedure performed. Typical post-adjustment tenderness may last 24 to 48 hours. You should inform the clinic of any unusual symptoms, broken or loose appliances, as soon as they are noted.
Atypical formation of teeth, or insufficient or abnormal changes in the growth of the jaws may limit our ability to achieve the desired result. If growth becomes disproportionate during or after treatment the bite may change, requiring additional treatments or, in some cases, surgery. Growth disharmony and unusual tooth formations are biological processes beyond the orthodontist's control. Growth changes that occur after orthodontic treatment may alter the quality of treatment results.
The total time required to complete treatment may exceed the original estimate. Excessive or deficient bone growth, poor cooperation in wearing the appliance(s) the required hours per day, poor oral hygiene, broken appliances and missed appointments can lengthen the treatment time and affect the quality of the end results.
Due to the wide variation in the size and shape of teeth, achievement of the most ideal result (for example, complete closure of excessive space) may require restorative dental treatment (in addition to orthodontic care). The most common types of treatment are cosmetic bonding (white fillings as "build ups"), crown and bridge restorative dental care and/or periodontal therapy.
In dealing with human beings and problems of growth and development, genetics and patient cooperation, achieving perfection is not always possible. Orthodontics is an art, not an exact science; therefore, a functionally and aesthetically adequate result, not 100% perfection, must be acceptable. Your comments in regard to your expectations prior to, during and after orthodontic treatment will help us understand your concerns. Please keep us regularly informed of your feelings, concerns and results that do not meet your expectations.