Why Does Orthodontics Sometimes Fail?

General Medical Topics

young orthodontic patient who hasn't been wearing her retainer

It’s rare but sometimes orthodontics don’t deliver on the patient’s expectations. We have had patients come to our clinic after treatment elsewhere has not been as effective as hoped. Here are some reasons this can occur.

Not Following Treatment Recommendations

For orthodontics to work, patients need to follow the directions of their orthodontist. If a patient is eating the wrong foods and regularly breaking the wire, their braces won’t work until the wire can be repaired. During this time, teeth can move back to their old position and some of the hard work is lost.

Not wearing elastics as often as they should is another common reason for orthodontics not working as well as they could. With slow treatment, some patients may not be willing to see it through until the end and want the braces removed before the ideal result has been achieved.   

Retainers aren’t Worn for Long Enough

The biggest complaint of people who had orthodontic work 20 years ago is that some of their teeth moved back to their old position leaving them with crooked teeth. The reason for this is they didn’t wear a retainer for long enough. Teeth and gums can take more than a year to settle after braces are removed. With this experience, orthodontists recommend retainers are worn for much longer or a permanent wire be used behind the teeth to keep teeth in their correct place.  

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Inexperience of Clinic

Not all orthodontic cases are the same. Some people have simple cases with a small amount of realignment needed while other patients present with numerous problems. It is important that patients are well matched with an orthodontist who has the skills and experience needed to treat their problems.

This mismatch usually occurs when a patient is treated by their dentist rather than an orthodontist. An orthodontist has had years of additional study and training than a dentist. An orthodontist also has far more experience because they spend their entire workday on orthodontic treatments rather than a mix of dentistry and orthodontics.

At our clinic, our orthodontists specialise in different areas, so that are seeing similar cases. It also allows some of our orthodontists to handle complex adult cases because dentists are referring these cases to us regularly. They know our clinic has the skills and experience to treat these patients effectively.  

Unrealistic Expectations

The vast majority of patients are amazed and thrilled with the results of their orthodontics. They have their braces removed and think the result was worth the effort they made during treatment. But some patients expect too much of their orthodontic treatment.

Orthodontics can straighten and realign teeth, change bites and sometimes the face and jaw shape but it can’t change the shape of a tooth, for example.

A good orthodontist with the right technology will be able to show a new patient what their teeth may look like after treatment using 3D modelling software. The model can be used to show how the patient’s realigned teeth will look and if there are any potential limitations.  

If you want an honest appraisal and discussion about what can be achieved with orthodontics, contact The Orthodontist on (08) 9364 5100.