Building a house on sand is unlikely to be a safe prospect and could lead to expensive problems further down the line. The same is true with orthodontic treatment. We can see the crowns of our teeth, but the roots are hidden away and form 2/3s of the tooth structure. So nearly 70% of our teeth are not visible. For this reason it is important to ensure that there are no hidden problems. When carrying out an orthodontic examination it is important to look at the teeth but also an examination of the gums is necessary. This establishes whether there is any loss of support that could lead to problems with the teeth becoming mobile. Photographs and scans, are not enough to give the true picture. Just as an architect would survey the ground to ensure it is safe to build, orthodontists examine the patient to make sure orthodontic treatment is safe to begin.
Planning Orthodontic Treatment
If considering orthodontic treatment it is important to have an x-ray view of your teeth taken. The exposure to radiation is less than one would experience taking a flight to Spain, or a taking a trip to Cornwall for a day. Some companies don’t consider the taking of x-rays as important, even making the case for not taking them. These same companies will often ask you to sign a disclaimer to say you have had an examination by your dentist and you are fit to have brace treatment. This disclaimer is usually a long document that most people will not read but is brought out when things go wrong.
The x-ray view does take a little extra time and your orthodontist will spend time viewing these to both plan your treatment and also search for any issues that could be a problem if starting treatment. We regularly find things which can easily be treated but if left, could lead to serious infection, loss of bone around your teeth and loss of teeth. Occasionally we pick up urgent issues that can be referred for treatment which could even save your life.
The most common problems that we find are holes in teeth, bone loss, infection around the roots of teeth and sometimes extra teeth or missing teeth. If there is an extra tooth or infection present then orthodontic treatment would be dangerous to start. It seems unfair to burden you the patient with the responsibility, especially as the examination your dentist would do, is generally different to the kind that an orthodontist would do.
There is often no need to take certain x-ray views when doing a general check up. So your dentist could say all is well when an orthodontist may look for other things and find issues that may be safe if no treatment is being done, but very unsafe if starting a brace treatment.
By taking an x-ray view of your teeth, we can sometimes carry out treatment where a problem tooth is noticed. The problem tooth could be removed for the benefit of the overall treatment, reducing treatment time. This also reduces the risk of having a healthy tooth removed, leaving the unhealthy tooth in place. Treatments are planned on the basis of your crowding or spacing, the size and shape of the jaws, and your facial profile. They can also be planned on the basis of your career, your outside interests, and hobbies such as playing a musical instrument or contact sports.
The use of artificial intelligence has been a great help in diagnosing and treating patients with braces. The problem is that some companies are trying to replace effective treatment planning with artificial intelligence before it is up to speed. AI is a tool for us to use but should not be used to replace safe treatments where the risks and benefits of different procedures are explained to you before starting.
Good orthodontic treatment is a combination of good history taking, examination of the patient and listening to the individual so that treatments are bespoke and not one size attempting to fit everyone. Book a free smile assessment with our treatment coordinator and learn about your treatment options. Appointments are available virtually or in person at our Birmingham orthodontics practice.