My teeth have been crooked since I was a kid but I never got braces. Is it too late to have orthodontic treatment now?

No - healthy teeth can be moved at any age. Orthodontic treatment can restore good function. And teeth that work better usually look better, too. A healthy, beautiful smile can improve self-esteem, no matter the age.

I am pregnant - isn't this a great time to get braces?

Pregnancy brings on bodily changes that may affect the mouth. Soft tissues such as gums become much more susceptible to infection. Discuss this question with your GP before you start orthodontic treatment.

May I play contact sports while wearing braces?

Yes. But wear a protective mouth guard.

Do teeth with braces need special care?

Yes. Patients with braces must be careful to avoid hard, sticky, chewy and crunchy foods, or hard objects, such as pens, pencils or fingernails. Keeping the teeth and braces clean requires more precision and time, and must be done every day if the teeth and gums are to be healthy during and after orthodontic treatment. Clean, healthy teeth also move more quickly.

I saw an advertisement the other day for perfect teeth in only one or two visits to the dentist. Is this for real?

Fact: Teeth can only move 1mm per month. Quick-fix veneers only temporarily cover crooked teeth. Teeth straightened by an orthodontist are normally good for life.

If I get braces I still need to look good for work. What are my options?

In some cases, brackets may be bonded behind the teeth (lingual braces). Some of today's wires are made with advanced plastic materials that exert a steady, gentle pressure on the teeth, so that the tooth-moving process may be faster and more comfortable for patients. A type of clear orthodontic wire is currently in an experimental stage. Another option may be the use of a series of plastic tray aligners instead of traditional braces to correct some problems.

How may I distinguish an orthodontist from a dentist?

Use our Orthodontists Locator to find accredited Orthodontists in South Africa. Orthodontists included in this search are all South African Society of Orthodontists members. SASO membership is the best way to confirm a doctor's status as an orthodontist.

Are There Health Advantages To Adult Orthodontic Treatment?

For these patients an orthodontically corrected smile can improve their self-confidence and their life quality. Secondly, some adults have highly destructive bites and have worn their teeth extensively. Orthodontics can align their teeth and improve their bites to ideal function and hence increase the longevity of their teeth.

How is adult orthodontic treatment different than teenage orthodontic treatment?

As a result, the orthodontist needs to be gentler with his treatment. The orthodontist can still move your teeth, but the orthodontist needs to move your teeth more slowly to let your mouth heal between tightening appointments.

The other difference is that it is harder to enlarge your mouth to get all of your teeth to fit. In the FAQ for teenage orthodontic patients(tm) we noted that when you are growing, your jaw is like clay; if your mouth is too small for your teeth, the orthodontist can stretch your mouth within limits so everything fits. Well, once you stop growing, your jaw hardens; it is difficult for an orthodontist to stretch your jaw. Some people elect to have their jaw enlarged surgically. However, most adults decide to have their teeth straightened, but not get their jaw enlarged.

That changes the treatment somewhat because the orthodontist may have to remove some teeth to make everything fit while the orthodontist could have stretched your jaw if you had come in for treatment when you were a teenager. Nevertheless, orthodontic treatment still works. It just goes slower and may be slightly more painful when you are older, because the orthodontist cannot stretch your jaw and teeth need to be pulled.