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What is orthodontic treatment?

Do you think your smile looks good? Do you have problems such as "overbite", "crossbite", "overcrowding" and so on? How many orthodontic options are there to choose from? Is it too late to correct my teeth as an adult?

"Malocclusion" not only hinders chewing, eating and cleaning but also affects appearance, self-confidence and even social life and work performance. In fact, malocclusion is very common. If you have this problem, seek medical advice to avoid adverse effects as soon as possible.

What is Malocclusion?

Malocclusion refers to the situations when teeth are not aligned properly. Ideally, there should be no extrusion or gaps between teeth as well as no unaligned and tilted teeth. The upper row of teeth should just cover the lower row of teeth, while the upper and lower rows of molars should fit and align. Common malocclusion include:

Causes of malocclusion

  1. Inherited: inherited dental alignment from parents.
  2. Bad habits: finger sucking, tongue thrust, lip biting, teeth grinding at night, etc.
  3. Poor dentures: dentures (crowns) that are too high can lead to overbite, with teeth failing to fit properly.
  4. Abnormal growth of permanent teeth: abnormal order of permanent teeth growth which affects teeth alignment and cause malocclusion. 

Consequences of malocclusion

  1. Lack of self-confidence due to the appearance of the face and teeth, affecting relationships and social life.
  2. Teeth are difficult to be cleaned, easily causing oral hygiene problems.
  3. Affects pronunciation or articulation.
  4. Affects normal chewing function.

If you have the above problems, seek medical advice as soon as possible.

What is orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontics is a treatment to gradually move teeth to their ideal positions with the help of orthodontic appliances. By improving teeth alignment, it can achieve the purposes of improving appearance and biting positions as well as reducing the risk of having various dental diseases.

Can orthodontics really make you look beautiful?

Some people say that after orthodontic treatment, their faces become smaller, their chins become sharper and their noses become straighter. Is this true? Orthodontic treatment programme varies among people due to their different conditions. Certain treatment programmes, such as tooth extraction and the placement of temporary Anchorage Device, could change the shape and position of lips and jaw, thus affecting the appearance of the face. However, innate structures such as the proportion and shape of the face, the length of the jawbone and the thickness of the lips cannot be changed. Therefore, these additional effects vary from person to person. Dentists are essentially working to improve the alignment and biting relationship of the teeth.

In fact, as long as the teeth are aligned, the appearance and smile will definitely improve significantly. The change in facial shape is the icing on the cake.

Benefits of orthodontic treatment

  • Restores chewing function
  • Teeth become easier to clean, indirectly preventing tooth decay and periodontal disease
  • Improves smile and appearance, promotes self-confidence and social life
  • Improves pronunciation and articulation
  • Early diagnosis and treatment in developing children to avoid uncoordinated jaw bone development caused by malocclusion

The suitable age for orthodontics

There is basically no age limit for orthodontics. Both the Hong Kong Society of Orthodontists and the American Association of Orthodontists recommend that children should be checked and evaluated by a dentist around the age of 7 so that appropriate treatment can be provided early for alignment and biting problems during deciduous teeth growth period.

General orthodontic procedures

Orthodontics is a complicated treatment. The dentist will first make a detailed professional assessment and then formulate a therapeutic programme for you. Regular check-ups and patient cooperation are the keys to satisfactory result achievement.

1. Initial consultation

    • The dentist will examine your teeth and jaws to assess whether orthodontic treatment is suitable

2. Dental X-ray

    • To assess the sizes and positions of jaws and teeth and detect hidden problems such as wisdom teeth, supernumerary teeth, etc.

3. Photo taking, scans or impressions

    • The dentist will scan your teeth structure and take photos to record the appearance of your teeth, to evaluate your teeth alignment and biting conditions for the formulation of a therapeutic programme

4. Install fixed braces on the teeth

5. Adjustment and checking

    • After the braces are fixed, the dentist will regularly check the progress of the orthodontics.

6. Fixed brace removal

    • After the completion of the entire treatment, the fixed braces will be removed

7. Retainer wearing

    • To hold teeth in their ideal positions

The treatment time varies from person to person, usually taking 18 to 24 months

Orthodontic Treatments

There are generally two orthodontic methods, involving traditional metal braces and transparent braces.

Traditional metal braces

Dentists will first stick nails (brackets) on teeth surface, then tie metal arch wires (such as elastic or iron wires), so that the teeth can move along with the rebound of the arch wires. The dentist will regularly check the progress of teeth movement and replace the elastic rings or the steel arch wires, etc., to gradually move your teeth to the correct positions. After the teeth have moved to the ideal positions, wear a dental retainer to stabilize the positions.


  • Relatively cheaper than other orthodontic methods


    • Each teeth is affixed with metal brackets and arch wires, of which the appearance will give people an impression of having "steel teeth"
    • The patient has to be very careful in daily activities, otherwise the brackets or arch wires may hurt the oral mucosa

Transparent Braces

Transparent (invisible) braces make use of 3D computer scanning technology to record the order of the teeth. The computer will then analyze the force to be applied at each stage, then preset the data on different invisible braces. The patient only need to wear the braces for the required number of hours as instructed by the dentist, and their teeth will move to the preset positions. Transparent braces made of clear plastic can fit your teeth comfortably. They need to be replaced every 7 to 14 days.


    • Braces are almost "invisible" in appearance.
    • Unfixed design, easy to remove and put on. Little impact on eating.
    • Reduced pain from using braces


    • Relatively expensive
    • Reliant on the patient’s self-discipline. Besides eating and brushing teeth, the patient must consciously wear the braces for 20 to 22 hours every day. Failing to wear them for the required time may affect treatment results

Self-service braces?

Different from the traditional brace approach that comes with dentist following-up, self-service braces companies directly communicate with consumers and arrange for check-ups. Patients’ suitability for orthodontics is evaluated with teeth photoes they uploaded. They are even allowed to take their own dental impressions, saving time for face-to-face dentist consultation. Afterwards, teeth alignment simulation will be performed with a computer programme, then plastic aligners will be made according to teeth movement, simplifying all procedures handled by dentists. Most follow-ups are carried out remotely, allowing overseas registered dentists to follow up with the information obtained, saving the costs of regular follow-up visits and making the price more than half lower than dental orthodontics in clinics.

Risks of Self-service Braces

  1. Check-ups and communications before treatment are omitted. Designing treatment programmes based solely on dental impressions or intraoral scans will often ignore the genuine needs of patients.
  2. Without clinical and X-ray check-ups before treatment, hidden dental problems are difficult to be discovered.
  3. It becomes very difficult to detect and correct teeth movement which does not follow the aligners or computer simulation due to the omission of regular check-ups by dentists. Teeth could have moved to incorrect positions or even out of the alveolar bone. Gum and bone could shrink, even causing the teeth to die.
  4. If problems arise with the self-service treatment, even if there is a dentist who is willing to take over it, the problems may not be completely correctable. Specialist dentists may be required to correct such problems, for which the treatment costs could be very expensive.

All in all, orthodontics is a professional dental treatment and prices should not be the only factor for consideration. A lack of professional diagnosis by registered dentists during the orthodontic process may affect the treatment results and increase the risks, directly affecting the oral health of patients, which could be not worth the candle.

Equipment Required for Orthodontic Therapy

3D Oral Scanner

It can obtain 3D oral images in real time, analyze teeth alignment problems, provide real-time computer simulated treatment results and help dentists design the best treatment programmes.

Panoramic dental X-ray

Provides dentists with the complete image of the entire mouth cavity in a single film, including the supramaxilla and submaxillary, the teeth and temporomandibular joint, allowing dentists to examine the temporomandibular joint or the jawbone, erupting teeth or those that have not yet erupted. It is particularly useful for identifying jawbone growth and problematic wisdom teeth.

Cephalometric X-ray

The image of the head scanned from the side allows dentists to evaluate the relationship between the supramaxilla and submaxillary and the angle between the teeth and the jawbone, helping dentists to make accurate diagnosis and design the best treatment programmes.


Document the appearance of teeth and face before and after treatment

How to choose an ideal dental clinic?

Orthodontic treatment is a complex and long-term therapy which usually takes 1 to 2 years. During this period, there could be unexpected occasions such as peg departure, soreness in teeth and brace loss. Therefore, it is very important to choose an experienced dentist with good reputation.

In addition, equipment and supporting facilities in the clinic are also essential, such as 3D oral scanner as well as panoramic oral and cephalometric X-ray machines, which can help dentists make the most accurate diagnosis and design the most ideal treatment programmes to obtain the best treatment results.