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Warning about ‘quick-fix’ teeth straightening

The Orthodontic Society of Ireland has said that quick fixes can cost more than money.

Image: Woman braces mouth via Shutterstock

THE SEARCH FOR straight teeth isn’t always an easy one – and now Irish orthodontists are warning against ‘quick fix’ treatments.

The Orthodontic Society of Ireland (OSI), which represents the majority of orthodontists in Ireland, is warning people against attending quick fix smile clinics.

It says that orthodontists are growing increasingly concerned at reports of patients dissatisfied with the results of treatments used by some cosmetic dentists at ‘smile clinics’ to straighten teeth.

They are also having to rectify some of these failed treatments.

Treatment

Orthodontists claim that many of the treatments are offered by dentists who are inexperienced in providing orthodontic treatment “but who are claiming to give a beautiful smile in six months or less”.

They say that treatment provided by specialist orthodontists ensures that following the treatment, the patient is biting correctly and the teeth are in harmony with the jaws and lips.

The OSI is advising people that are considering getting their own or their children’s teeth straightened to follow this advice:

Qualifications

  • It is advisable to ask the orthodontist/ dentist how much training they have had in orthodontics and with the type of brace they are proposing to fit
  • Orthodontists have first trained as general dentists for five years and then undertaken a further three years of training in orthodontics to qualify as orthodontic specialists and are recognised by the Dental Council of Ireland.

Options

  • Any specialist orthodontist will discuss all the possible types of brace. Be wary if you are only offered one option or one type of brace.

Quick fix

  • While  simple straightening of the front teeth can be carried out in as little as six months, this is not always a long-term solution.
  • It often takes at least 12 months to get the teeth fully corrected, biting correctly and in harmony with the jaws and lips.

Dr Katherine Condren, President, OSI and Specialist Orthodontist, Terenure, in Dublin said:

We understand that some people want a quick fix, however specialist orthodontists who treat patients with crooked and overcrowded teeth everyday know that six month braces will only work for a small amount of patients (approximately 5 per cent) and in those patients they usually only align the front teeth but do not provide a stable bite.

Dr Sinead O’Hanrahan, Vice-President OSI and Specialist Orthodontist, Navan said that it is never too late to consider specialist orthodontic treatment, because healthy teeth can be moved at any age.

Ideally however the first orthodontic consultation should be at approximately nine years of age before the last baby teeth are shed as this gives the orthodontist more treatment options. A decision can then be made as to whether early intervention is appropriate or whether it is better to wait until all the permanent teeth erupt (at aged 12 years approximately).

Case study

Edel Godfrey (31), who lives in Dublin, began orthodontic treatment in order to straighten her teeth. She was unhappy with the appearance of her smile and was treated by Dr Condren.

“I didn’t like the shape and the form they were,” said Godfrey. “I always felt everyone’s teeth were nicer than mine.”

Her dentist said that the upper left lateral incisor was dis-improving in its appearance as time passed, while “the upper centreline was off to the right of the midline by 2mm”.

The treatment involved an extraction to make room to move all the teeth to the left side and the fitting of fixed appliances.

Also, as Edel was already missing an eye tooth on the right, Dr Condren spent time during the treatment twisting the upper right premolar around to make it look like the missing eye-tooth.

Edel choose the clear ceramic brackets in the upper arch and the treatment took 18 months. Afterwards, Dr Condren fitted gold fixed retainers to keep the teeth straight, and Edel wears night time retainers.

“It might be expensive but you pay for quality,” said Godfrey. “I wanted to do things on a slower basis where the gum would still be healthy in 20 – 30 years time. If you pull the mouth so fast you are just pulling against the grain, so to speak. My teeth haven’t moved – they still look exactly the same since the day i got the braces off.”

She said she does not believe a six month treatment is good for teeth. “You’re dealing with a fully-qualified professional, just on moving the teeth. An orthodontist knows a lot more about how to move the teeth, bone structure, muscle structure.”

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