Orthodontics is a branch of dental medicine dealing with prevention, diagnosing and correcting the position of teeth and surrounding structures. There is no age limit for orthodontic therapy, but treatment in adults usually lasts longer than in children. Children should start visiting an orthodontist at the age of six, after the first permanent teeth have come out. Furthermore, it is advisable to have an orthodontic check in some of the following cases: crooked teeth, early loss of milk teeth, prolonged finger suckling or some other unfavourable habit, speech difficulty, problems with chewing or mouth closing problems. Generally, the ideal age for orthodontic treatment in children is between 9 and 14 years.

The orthodontist, having performed diagnostic examinations and made the orthodontic treatment plan, recommends the type of orthodontic appliance to the patient. Orthodontic checks must be performed periodically due to the growth and development of the child and the constant changes that occur at that age, especially if the child wears braces.

There are more treatment options in children in puberty age than in patients who have finished growing. However, in adult patients it is possible to correct teeth orthodontically, but not the surrounding structures – this is only possible with surgery.

In addition to a beautiful smile, orthodontic treatment contributes to a harmonious facial profile and proper chewing. In addition to appearance, it improves speech and makes cleaning easier, thereby reducing the possibility of caries.

01. WHEN SHOULD THE FIRST ORTHODONTIC EXAMINATION BE PERFORMED?

Children should visit an orthodontist for a checkup approximately at the age of six, precisely when the first permanent teeth have come out.

The reasons to definitely see an orthodontist are: crooked teeth, early loss of milk teeth, prolonged finger suckling or some other unfavourable habit, speech difficulty, problems with chewing or mouth closing problems.

02. HOW LONG DOES AN ORTHODONTIC THERAPY LAST?

The duration of the treatment depends on different factors, but it is approximately two years. Checkups should be done every two or three months. After completed therapy, the patients wear so-called retention appliances (retainers). They support the teeth in the corrected position, i.e. prevent the teeth from moving back into the pre-treatment position. 

03. WHAT DO BRACES FOR CHILDREN COST?

When parents want to provide orthodontic therapy for their children, the first questions that arise are: what do braces cost, which types of braces are good for children, is wearing braces painful, how long will the child have to wear braces and the like.

The therapy duration plan, including the duration of wearing braces, is determined by the orthodontist and depends on different factors. No uniform answers are possible. It is very important that parents follow the instructions and recommendations of the dentist about hygiene measures and to bring the children for regular checkups so that the orthodontist can monitor the progress of the therapy.

The price of braces for children and adults is more or less the same. However, in the case of children, the health insurance (in Croatia the Croatian Health Insurance Fund) can cover a part or the total cost of the placement and the cost of the braces.

04. WHAT DO BRACES FOR ADULTS COST?

The exact price of braces fitting in adults cannot be determined in advance, because it depends on several factors. First of all, the price of the orthodontic therapy depends on the case complexity. Thus, the exact amount will be known after the clinical examination, the orthopantomogram and studio models have been made and detailed orthodontic analysis has been performed.

Furthermore, adults very often have the possibility of choosing different types of braces (e.g. for better aesthetics), which also affects the final price.

05. DO FIXED BRACES HAVE TO BE METAL AND UGLY?

No, fixed braces do not have to be entirely made of metal. The brackets can be ceramic, almost invisible, while the ligatures (elastic bands affixing the archwire to the brackets) can be in different colours.

The archwire can also be white, making the entire apparatus appear acceptable in terms of aesthetics.

06. WHICH IS BETTER: CERAMIC OR METAL BRACES?

When thinking about which of these two options is better, one should bear in mind that both types of braces have their advantages and disadvantages. The decision is always on the patient, depending on which option suits him/her better.

Metal braces vs. ceramic braces:

 CeramicMetal
VisibilityLess visible, especially from the distance.Easily visible.
ComfortDo not cause irritation of the mucous membrane.Can irritate the mucous membrane.
PriceMore expensive than the metal ones.Cheaper than the ceramic ones.
TreatmentTreatment with ceramic braces can last longer than with metal braces.The treatment is quick.
LimitationsNot recommended in patients with serious orthodontic problems. Not suited for patients allergic to nickel. 
07. IS IT BETTER TO USE FIXED OR MOBILE BRACES?

Both types of braces have their purpose, thus the choice will be based on the patient's diagnosis and age. Mobile braces are mostly used in children during the intensive growth phase of teeth, while fixed braces are recommended for adults.

08. CAN “INVISIBLE” BRACES WITHOUT WIRES BE USED? HOW SUCCESSFUL IS SUCH A THERAPY?

Invisible braces are designed for adults who do not want to wear conventional braces for aesthetic reasons. These are transparent aligners (splints) specifically tailored to every patient's needs.

“Invisible” braces are successful and may be useful in orthodontic therapies. One of the technologies used is Invisalign.

09. FOR HOW LONG MUST BRACES BE WORN TO ACHIEVE GOOD RESULTS OF THE THERAPY?

For a successful mobile brace wearing it is of key importance that the patient cooperates with the dentist during the therapy (regular checkups, wearing as recommended, etc.). For a successful therapy, mobile braces should be worn for 14-16 hours a day (assumed, of course, that the patient can remove the braces by himself/herself).