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Complications to Treatment

The mouth is very sensitive to changes and the introduction of any appliance means that you must expect a period of adjustment. There may be some discomfort associated with orthodontic treatment. This usually can be resolved by using a simple over the counter headache remedy and usually occurs for a few days after adjustments.

As with all health care there is some risk associated with orthodontic treatment. Excellent (not just good) oral hygiene is essential. Poor hygiene may result in cavities, decalcification, discoloured teeth and gum disease.

Problems such as loss in the height of the supporting bone, abnormal wearing of the teeth, shortening of the roots of the teeth, abscesses and recession of the gums may occur during orthodontic treatment. These conditions may be associated with orthodontics, but also occur for other reasons.

The two most serious are devitalisation of teeth and shortening of the roots, both these result from an abnormal reaction to the pressure, which is used to affect tooth movement. Devitalisation is almost always associated with early trauma to which the teeth have been subject, as in sports injury. Removal of the devitalised pulp and a root canal filling is then required. If root canal therapy is not initiated early enough there can be discolouration of the crown. Shortening of the roots – root absorption, affects a small but significant percentage of the population. Close examination of x-rays can usually reveal those individuals who may be susceptible to it. In these cases treatment plans usually have to be modified.

Temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) problems may also develop before, during or after orthodontic treatment. Problems with the joint can be caused by many factors, including stress. If such a problem does occur, additional or altered treatment may be necessary.

Orthodontic appliances are not toys. They must be treated with respect. Care must be taken to avoid activities and foods, which might loosen or dislodge parts which could be swallowed or inhaled. You are reminded of the importance of regular visits to the dentist during treatment.