Occasionally patients start their treatment with a removable brace which may be followed up by the more common fixed brace. Patients receiving NHS treatment will have a standard metal appliance fitted. These are sometimes known as ‘train tracks’. This consists of a brace that uses individual metal brackets, unique to each tooth, that are secured in a precise location onto each tooth. A thin straightening wire is attached to the brackets and is held in place by small elastic bands. The tension in the wire causes the teeth to move gently into position. As the teeth move it is necessary to replace the wire. Your orthodontist will use different wires to achieve different types of movement. Usually treatment takes 18-24 months.
Some treatments which involve correction of the relationship between the jaws require the patient to wear larger elastics worn between the arches usually at the back of the mouth.
Once the fixed braces are removed removable retainers are fitted to prevent relapse. Removable retainers are initially worn every night. The need slowly reduces to only two nights a week and orthodontists recommend this weekly care to guarantee teeth remain aligned. A removable retainer is like a very thin, virtually invisible clear gum shield which is easy to wear. The orthodontist monitors the retention phase for a year but recommends lifelong wear to prevent relapse.