Why visit a specialised orthodontist?

 Orthodontists are specialised dentists who after their five-year General Dentistry studies have also completed a 3- or 4-year postgraduate orthodontic program in Greek Universities or abroad. The title of orthodontic specialist is issued by the Ministry of Education following special examinations and only certified orthodontists may use such a title.

An orthodontist is an exclusive practitioner of Orthodontics and those seeking orthodontic treatment should ensure they receive treatment from a certified orthodontist. For a list of qualified orthodontists practicing in the area of Thessaloniki, please visit www.osth.gr (Dental Association of Thessaloniki).

When should the first visit to an orthodontist take place?

 The popular belief that a child’s first visit should take place after all permanent teeth have erupted is wrong.

The first visit to the orthodontist should take place around the age of 6-7 years, when permanent upper and lower incisors and first permanent molars have erupted (early mixed dentition period).

Although in most cases orthodontic treatment will not start at that time, it is important to early diagnose problems, such as crowding, cross-bites (upper teeth occluding ‘behind’ rather than ‘in front of’ lower ones), harmful oral habits or skeletal problems. Thus, the child can be followed up and appropriate timing of orthodontic intervention can be determined.

In very specific cases immediate intervention may be necessary, usually of very short duration. (See Orthodontic treatment of children and adolescents)

What is the right age for treatment to start?

 Given that every problem has different timing and manifestation in any individual, mainly depending on the child’s growth, there is no single answer to fit all cases.

As a rule of thumb, in most cases treatment starts at the age of 9-12 years for girls and 10-14 years for boys. Usually, at this age, not all permanent teeth have erupted (late mixed dentition period) and the child is still growing. (See Orthodontic treatment for children and adolescents)

Is there an age limit to receiving orthodontic treatment?

 Tooth movement biology is the same in children and adults; in other words, age is not a limiting factor. Adults are more challenging due to increased aesthetic demands and/or compromised dental/medical history, but can be managed with very good results using modern orthodontic treatment.

Modern appliances (transparent braces, lingual braces, clear aligners) and cooperation between orthodontists and other dental specialists (interdisciplinary treatment) provide the best possible functional and aesthetic outcome, so that patients can enjoy a healthy and beautiful smile whatever their age. (See Adult orthodontic treatment)

Does it hurt?

 Teeth are moved by forces exercised by orthodontic wires through braces attached to the teeth.

This is why a slight discomfort after the orthodontic appliances have been bonded is to be expected, but it is only temporary. The period of patient adaptation is rarely longer than a week. Modern techniques and materials used today in orthodontic practice reduce both initial discomfort and visit frequency.

How long does orthodontic treatment last?

 This depends on the nature and severity of the problem, patient age and cooperation with the orthodontist.

It is only reasonable that more complex problems should require longer treatment (mild skeletal problems, impacted teeth). Children who start necessary treatment at a younger age need slightly longer treatment time, since braces may be removed only after full permanent tooth eruption (including second molars) and growth completion.

Successful orthodontic treatment relies on the joint efforts of both orthodontist and patient. The patient needs to properly and consistently use orthodontic aids, maintain excellent oral hygiene and keep scheduled appointments.

On average, a comprehensive orthodontic treatment lasts from one to two years or slightly longer, but it is rarely longer than three years.

How often should I visit the orthodontist?

 The ‘key’ to successful and safe orthodontic treatment is to apply mild forces on teeth and periodontal tissues that will be absorbed gradually. Teeth and surrounding tissues need to be allowed the necessary time to ‘recover’ before new forces may be applied.

Visits are usually scheduled for every 4-6 weeks and modified depending on the case. This is one of the reasons why orthodontic treatment may be lengthy.

Promises of achieving a ‘shorter’ treatment period may result in pain and undesirable side effects from teeth and periodontal tissues and are to be avoided.

When should permanent teeth be extracted?

 There are cases when permanent teeth need to be extracted to resolve serious crowding or due to skeletal facial type. The decision is taken by the orthodontist after considering all diagnostic data and informing the patient and their environment accordingly.

Extraction of permanent teeth, when this is absolutely indicated, is the treatment of choice. Non-extraction orthodontic treatment offered to the patient as a more attractive alternative, despite clear indication to the contrary, is not the ‘best’ treatment and may prove to be unstable in the long-term.

What happens at the end of treatment?

 Following the end of treatment and after braces have been removed a long-term retention protocol is necessary to ensure outcome stability.

Removable appliances, clear splints, fixed retention or a combination of these may be used.

Fixed retainers are special wires permanently bonded to the interior surface of the six lower and/or upper teeth and are unobtrusive.

The retention phase is as important as the active treatment phase and prevents relapse as the mouth is an ever-changing, dynamic environment.

The length of the retention period is determined by the orthodontist while patient cooperation and compliance is decisive.

How much does orthodontic treatment cost?

 Cost depends on the type and severity of the problem, treatment duration and the type of orthodontic appliances to be used. Following treatment planning the cost is determined and paid in instalments during active treatment.

Insurance funds cover part of the expenses. After you have established that your insurance agency does cover part of the treatment expenditure, your orthodontist can help with the ratification procedure of your case by providing you with the necessary documents. For further information you can visit the following site: www.eogme.gr