FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a specialist area of dentistry that deals with the movement of teeth and influencing the growth of facial bones. The orthodontist can use custom-made appliances to apply constant pressure to the teeth. Exerting pressure in this way moves the teeth into their ideal position.
What is an orthodontist?
After dentistry studies, it is possible to train for at least 3 years in the specialist field of orthodontics at an accredited Swiss university orthodontics department and, after passing an exam, gain the title of “Specialist in Orthodontics (CH)”. This long training route, involving both theoretical and practical work, is necessary to enable orthodontists to find the best solution to tooth alignment problems which can often be complex. The Swiss Orthodontic Society (SGK) is able to influence the training route for the “Specialist in Orthodontics (CH)” and hence influence the required qualification. This standard is regarded as extremely good throughout Europe.
What does an orthodontist do for patients?
As well as the position of teeth, orthodontists can also influence the position of the jaws and the jaw joints (temporomandibular joints – TMJ); hence they exert an influence on the teeth and jaws in terms of aesthetics, function and preventive care.
Why should crooked teeth be corrected?
Crooked teeth, gaps and incorrect positioning of the jawbones in relation to each other not only affect a person’s appearance, but can also greatly impair their chewing function and the health of the entire dentition: untreated dental misalignment can, for instance, cause excessive stress on the teeth or frequently lead to teeth grinding at night. As a result, the dentition sustains further damage. In addition, the chewing muscles and the jaw joints (TMJ) are unnaturally stressed and, in the worst-case scenario, sustain tissue damage. Crowded teeth are also harder to clean: tooth decay and periodontal disease may result.
Dentistry considerations are paramount when deciding whether to carry out orthodontic treatment. However, the treatment almost always brings added cosmetic improvements for the patient.
What should I consider if, despite dental and jaw misalignments, I do not want a brace and do not get my teeth corrected?
Adversely positioned teeth are far more difficult to clean. This can lead to increased caries, swollen, bleeding gums and even bad breath. There may also be a negative impact on speech, swallowing, jaw movements and, of course, smiling.
What are initial orthodontic records and what are they used for?
Orthodontists require initial records for examination purposes in order to draw up a suitable treatment plan to remedy the individual patient’s malocclusion.
With the aid of plaster casts, the treatment can be precisely planned and treatment progress can be monitored. Photographs of the face, profile and teeth make it possible to carry out an individual aesthetic analysis and check how the treatment is progressing. X-rays show whether teeth are missing or tooth decay is present, and also depict the position of the tooth roots in the jawbone. In addition, growth of the jaws can be diagnosed.
Questions about the treatment
At what age should an orthodontist first be consulted?
There is no generally applicable, perfect time to start treatment. This depends on what kind of misalignment of teeth or jaw exists in the particular patient. Movement of the jawbones often presupposes that as much growth is still to be expected. Therefore, starting treatment at an early stage is frequently advisable.
Orthodontics can basically be carried out at any age. Correcting tooth misalignment and jaw anomalies in adult patients of any age is part of the day-to-day range of services offered by a specialist practice. The average age at the start of treatment is between nine and 12 years.
Is treatment possible at any age?
In principle, yes. However, healthy periodontal tissues (gums, tooth bed) are a necessary precondition. As well as tooth movements, jaw growth can also be modified in children and adolescents. Only tooth movement is possible in adults because the jaw has finished growing.
How long does treatment take? How long will I have to wear my brace for?
The time braces are worn depends on the nature and extent of the misalignment. Active treatment usually lasts between six months and several years. Individual tooth movements can be achieved within just eight weeks. Lengthier and more extensive orthodontic treatments involving jumping the bite often require about three years. However, this is only a rough estimate of the time required. Some circumstances may lengthen but also shorten the treatment period.
How often does a brace have to be adjusted by the orthodontist?
Every five weeks, on average.
Is treatment with braces painful?
Your teeth may be temporarily sensitive at the start of the treatment. After the brace is fitted and tightened, people often experience feelings of tightness and sometimes pain for two or three days. It may be slightly more difficult to eat solid food for a few days. If an appliance rubs on your gums or a sore spot develops, you should arrange an appointment with your orthodontist to obtain relief.
Is there a greater risk of tooth decay while wearing braces?
The risk of caries (tooth decay) during orthodontic treatment is no higher than without treatment, provided you carefully follow the instructions about cleaning your teeth. Dental hygiene is made easier and improved during and after orthodontic treatment because the teeth are better positioned.
Will I need to have any teeth extracted?
As a rule, orthodontic treatment is carried out without permanent teeth having to be extracted. Especially if treatment is started early, permanent teeth do not usually have to be extracted, even if there is a distinct lack of space. This assumes that special appliances have already been used at an early stage in order to stimulate jaw growth and create additional space.
Will I have to change what I eat if I wear a brace?
As a rule, you can continue eating what you usually eat without changing your diet. It is only while you are wearing fixed braces that you need to take extra care when eating excessively hard foods.
Does it take longer to clean your teeth with a brace than without a brace?
Ideally, patients should clean their teeth three times a day after meals – in the morning, after lunch and in the evening – for three minutes each time. During the time fixed appliances (e.g. bands, palatal arches and brackets) are being worn, an extra two minutes’ cleaning each time is necessary. This means the “time loss” per day spent on ideal dental hygiene is about six minutes.
Can I take part in sports with a brace?
You can take part in sports with a dental brace. In principle, as far as possible you should always wear a gum shield for all types of contact sport – with or without a brace.
What should I do if something breaks on my brace?
Tell the practice what has happened by phone. If rubbing happens in certain areas during treatment with fixed appliances, a piece of wax fitted by the orthodontist will often help.
How will my teeth be kept in their new position?
After the brace has been removed, retention appliances should be worn for a certain amount of time so that the teeth are kept in their new position. Especially for patients with high cosmetic requirements, it is advisable to use fixed retainers that are invisibly fixed to the back of the teeth.
Questions about the methods
What kind of braces do I need?
The type of brace used for a patient depends partly on whether just the teeth are being corrected or the jaw as well.
Is treatment with invisalign® painful?
Experience has shown that a slight feeling of pressure can arise in the first few days after a new splint has been fitted. However, this is normal and a sign that the invisalign® splints are working to move the teeth in the desired direction.
Will wearing aligners affect my speech?
As with all orthodontic treatment methods, wearing splints can slightly affect your speech, but any adverse effect will disappear after one or two days, as soon as your tongue has got used to the aligner.
Is my choice of food restricted during invisalign® and nivellipso® treatment?
No. The great advantage of both treatments, after all, is that the splints can be taken out at any time.
Can I drink hot/cold drinks while wearing the aligners?
While you are wearing the aligners, you should only drink water or carbohydrate-free drinks, i.e. no drinks that cause tooth decay.
May I smoke with aligners?
As nicotine can discolour the aligners, we advise against smoking while wearing the splints.
Questions about the cost
What does orthodontic treatment cost?
Once we have drawn up initial records, we will provide you with an individual treatment and cost plan. Part of the costs may be covered and reimbursed, if need be, by a supplementary insurance with your health insurance fund. If the costs are not met by the health insurer, we obviously let patients know the anticipated costs in detail before they enter into treatment so that they have the option of choosing between different treatment alternatives.