Frequently Asked Questions


What are braces?

Teeth can be moved by applying constant gentle forces. Braces are tools which help us to move teeth in the direction we choose. There are many types of braces both fixed and removable. Braces are not a modern invention; they have been around for more than 100 years.

Can adults have braces on the NHS?

Adults generally do not qualify for NHS treatment unless their problem is very complicated and likely to require treatment in a hospital setting. This often involves a combination of braces and surgery or management of compromised teeth. Adults cannot be referred directly to the hospital department without seeing an orthodontist to assess the suitability for referral. Private consultation fee applies for assessments with an orthodontist.

Find out more about braces

Am I too old for braces?

There are no age limits. Teeth can be moved at any age, provided there are enough of them to allow a brace to be placed effectively. It is never too late to consider orthodontic treatment, if you would like to change your smile. The only requirement for orthodontic treatment is good dental health and a willingness to wear a brace.  More adults are choosing to wear braces later on in life. In most cases orthodontic treatment does not have to be done in the teens. However, it is true that some problems are best treated earlier during active growth. Generally, teeth tend to move faster in children than adults.

Will my brace look ugly?

Modern braces are invisible or certainly discrete. At your consultation appointment we can discuss which brace may be most suitable for delivering the result you want. People from all walks of life have orthodontic treatment; from celebrities and career people to students and busy mums etc.

Doesn’t orthodontic treatment take years to finish?

Most treatments take 9-18 months to compete. Mild problems can be treated in 6 months and complex problems can take 2 years or more. Treatment time also depends on the treatment aims and the type of brace used. We can discuss all options and braces with you to help you make the best decision for your needs.

Will my brace be painful?

Wearing a brace is uncomfortable during the first week whilst one is getting used to it. Regular painkillers can help during this period but not many people require them. The brace can rub on the lips and cheeks and the wire can sometimes dig in but all these problems are temporary.

How will I eat?

Eating can be difficult at the beginning as the teeth are tender for a week or two after starting of the treatment. It is best to have very soft foods that do not require chewing. As you get used to the brace, you will manage to have a more normal diet. However you will always have to avoid biting into hard chewy or sticky foods (eg. nuts, toffee, whole carrots) because they are likely to break the brace. You can have most things as long as you make it easier to eat by cutting it into small pieces. Fizzy/ acidic drinks (including natural juices and sparkling water) and sugary snacks need to be avoided because they dissolve enamel and cause tooth decay.

Will brace treatment interfere with playing sports and wind instruments?

A gum shield must be worn when playing contact sports.  A removable brace can be taken off for contact sports. A gum shield can be worn over a fixed brace. When playing wind instruments the lips can press against the brace, however it is rarely a major problem unless you are career grade.


What are retainers?

Retainers are used to maintain the result achieved by wearing braces. Unfortunately, throughout life teeth are subject to natural forces of the oral muscles and bite that move them out of alignment. The new straight position of the teeth needs to be maintained against the effect of these forces. Retainers are fitted after the braces have been removed and need to be worn life-long otherwise teeth may move out of line. Plastic retainers can be removable for night time wear only or they can be made of a thin metal wire which is fixed to the inside surfaces of the front teeth. Both types need maintenance.

How often do I need to wear my retainers?

Your retainers will need to be worn every night after your treatment is completed. Gradually you will be able to reduce the wear of your removable retainers to 3 or so nights a week- more is better and you can’t wear them too much! Without wearing them regularly, your teeth will move to some extent which is disappointing.

How long will I need to wear my retainers for?

There is no convenient time to stop wearing removable retainers. If you decide to stop (even after several years) or leave them out for a while, your teeth are guaranteed to move over time. Fixed (wire) retainers are helpful but they can come off without you realizing. They only hold the front teeth and in some cases this is just not enough because the collapse of the back teeth affects the front ones.

How often will I need to replace my retainers?

Your retainers need to be replaced regularly (like a pair of shoes) because of wear and tear which will make them lose tightness. Likewise, wearing tight, ill-fitting retainers will harm your teeth. Your retainers may need to be replaced more often if you are a grinder or clench your teeth during night.

I need new retainers

New moulds are required for new retainers and you will need to book an appointment. If your teeth have moved then mould will be taken on the current arrangement of your teeth. Any orthodontist (and some dentists) will be able to make you a new set. Payment will be taken on the impression appointment. We will advise you of the fee when you call us.

My retainers are broken

Broken removable retainers need to be replaced. Whilst you are waiting to come and see us, try to wear your broken retainer if it is possible. Fixed retainers may come unstuck and it may be possible to repair them. If they are dangling in your mouth or stopping you wearing your removable retainers, pull them off with your fingers with a firm pressure or ask a dentist to cut the offending part off.  Please wear your removable retainer every night and call us for advice on repair or replacement.

My retainers are tight

The retainer itself may be damaged and may need to be replaced or you may not be wearing it sufficiently and the teeth will have moved out of line. Call us for advice. If you have not been wearing your retainers enough and they are not too uncomfortable (but feel tight), wear them full time (night and day) for a few days to improve the fit.

My retainers don’t fit

The retainer itself may be damaged and may need to be replaced or you may not be wearing it as advised and the teeth will have moved considerably out of line. If you have not worn them enough and they do not fit, it may be too late to correct the problem. Please call us for advice on your options if you are concerned about the straightness of your teeth.


My fixed brace is broken

If it is not painful, eat soft food and chew away from the breakage to prevent any further damage. Contact us as soon as possible to seek further advice. If you are in pain you can seek emergency treatment from your orthodontist, dentist or in severe cases go straight to A&E Department in the nearest hospital.

My fixed brace is digging into my lips or cheek

Try to use dental wax to cover the offending part. Alternatively you can use the red wax around Babybel or Edam cheese or use sugar-free chewing gum. If the wire is long because it has popped out of the last tube, it can be reinserted (if you are dextrous!) or simply tucked away under the hook. Please feel free to get yourself out of trouble as you need to and we can repair the brace later. If the last tube has broken off the tooth, the long wire will need to be cut or the broken tube re-fixed on the tooth.

My removable brace is broken / cracked

Wear it, if possible, even if it is part time. Otherwise, there is a possibility that your teeth will move back and the brace will no longer fit. Contact us as soon as possible to seek further advice.

My removable brace feels tight / loose

It probably needs adjusting. Do the best you can to wear it in the mean time and contact us as soon as possible to seek further advice.