Brace yourself

26 September 2012
Volume 28 · Issue 8

Dentists are being advised to discuss the risks of orthodontic treatment with their patients and to try to manage their expectations. The Dental Defence Union (DDU) is advising dental practitioners that as well as discussing possible side-effects and complications, it is important to take into account patient expectations of what will be achieved when providing orthodontic treatment.  

In an article in the latest edition of the DDU Journal, Tony Ireland, NHS consultant, professor of orthodontics and a member of the DDU’s Dental Advisory Committee, explains that patients should be warned about the likely success of the initial treatment, particularly when using clear aligning appliances.

Tony said: “Dentists do habitually warn orthodontic patients about common side-effects such as toothache, soft tissue trauma, root resorption and alveolar bone loss. They also explain how patients can avoid risks of decalcification, gingivitis and periodontitis through good oral hygiene and avoiding sugary or acidic food and drink.

“However, it is also important to take into account patient expectations, not only of the anticipated outcome but what level of compliance is expected from them if a satisfactory result is to be achieved.

“Patients will naturally expect the teeth to move to their predicted positions, but this is not always the case. When using clear aligners, a further course of treatment with a fixed appliance might be necessary and patients should be warned about this in advance of the treatment as part of the consent process. Patients should also be given an idea of the anticipated overall treatment time and provided with written information about all of the associated risks of treatment. Dentists should keep accurate notes of these discussions in the patient’s record.”

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