Risks of treatment

All forms of medical and dental treatment, including orthodontics, have risks involved. Fortunately, in orthodontics, complications are rare, and when they do occur, they are usually minor in consequence.

Nevertheless, you should be aware of the potential risks of treatment and limitations when making the decision to undergo an orthodontic procedure.

Tooth decay
If the teeth are not cleaned properly during orthodontic treatment, cavities can form.Braces themselves do not cause cavities, but rather it is the poor brushing around them that does. Therefore, it is imperative that extra care be taken with your oral hygiene, by brushing and flossing regularly and seeing the dentist for check-ups.

White spot lesions
White spot lesions are white marks on the teeth. Excessive sugar and soft drink intake along with poor brushing can lead to white marks on the teeth when the braces come off. This can be quite unsightly, so it is important to brush well and eat healthy to prevent this from occurring.

After treatment your teeth have a tendency to start crowding again. This is a natural process that occurs in everyone, regardless of whether or not they’ve had braces. To prevent this, long-term faithful wear of retainers is required.

Gum disease
If the mouth is not kept clean by regular brushing and flossing, plaque and bacteria can build-up which can lead to gum (periodontal) disease.

Root shortening
In some patients, the length of the tooth roots may become shortened during orthodontic treatment. Certain patients are prone to this occurring whereas others are not, with susceptibility being difficult to predict. Root shortening is usually minor and rarely has significant consequences, but in severe cases it can threaten the longevity of the teeth.

Jaw joints
Occasionally patients undergoing orthodontic treatment may suffer from jaw joint pain or temporomandibular disorders (TMD). These problems are unrelated to orthodontic treatment and are usually a coincidence as they tend to appear during our teenage and young adult years –a time when we usually get braces.

Tooth vitality
Sometimes a tooth may have a delicate nerve because it has been traumatised previously or has a deep filling. Orthodontic tooth movement in some cases can aggravate this condition and in rare instances lead to a loss of vitality and discolouration of the tooth, requiring root canal treatment and other dental treatment to restore the colour.

Very infrequently an allergic response may develop to orthodontic materials in the form of ulcers in the mouth. If this happens we have alternative treatment options, like ceramic braces or Invisalign®.

Atypical growth
If the jaw doesn’t grow normally it may be difficult to achieve the desired result. Insufficient growth can limit the effectiveness of some of the orthodontic appliances whereas too much growth may change the bite significantly.

The gums, cheeks and lips may be scratched or irritated by newly placed appliances or by poking wires. However, braces are like new shoes –requiring a period of settling in, and after a while the mouth usually gets used to them.

General health
Certain medical conditions can affect tooth movement so it is important to inform us of any medical problems that you have and any medications that you are taking.