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You’ve Got Questions - We've Got Answers

We know that choosing a specialist orthodontist & the world of orthodontics can be a bit overwhelming. Below you’ll find answers to some of our frequently asked questions. If there’s something we haven’t touched on, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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  • What is orthodontics?
    Orthodontics is a specialised form of dentistry, focusing on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial abnormalities. In simple terms, orthodontic treatment is not just about straightening teeth - it is also about aligning jaws, preserving the health of the gums and jaw joints, and correcting the aesthetics of your smile and facial profile.
  • Why should I (or my family) get orthodontic treatment?
    Two great reasons: aesthetics and function. Orthodontic treatment improves your bite, allowing your teeth to function better which protects the health of you teeth longterm. It can also make it easier for you to keep them clean, which can improve your overall health. Having an attractive smile not only changes the way people see you — it enhances your own self confidence also.
  • What is the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?
    Compared to general dentists, a specialist orthodontist like Dr. O’Connell has completed at least three years of comprehensive training solely in orthodontics, in addition to their dental training. They have passed exams with the Royal College of Surgeons in the U.K., qualifying them as a specialist in orthodontics. As such, the orthodontist is best placed to advise on and treat a whole range of dental and skeletal problems. They are experienced with a number of different brace and aligner systems for you to choose, rather than being restricted to just one brace system.
  • What are braces?
    Braces are dental appliances used by your orthodontist to straighten your teeth and improve your smile. There are a variety of different braces such as metal braces, clear/tooth coloured braces or even clear aligners e.g Invisalign
  • How does orthodontic treatment work?
    Braces/aligners apply steady gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into a better position.
  • When should children visit the orthodontist?
    Generally it’s advised children see an orthodontist no later than 7 years of age although most orthodontic treatment begins between the ages of 9 and 14. The reason for this is that orthodontists can spot any problems with the development and eruption of teeth and as a result preventing more serious/complicated problems developing.
  • Would an adult patient benefit from orthodontics?
    Absolutely! It’s a common myth that orthodontic treatment is only for children. In fact the majority of patients we treat at Docklands Dental are mainly adults. Treatment can be successful at any age. Everyone wants a beautiful and healthy smile.
  • Is it too late to start?
    It’s never too late to start! Whether you’re thinking of braces for you or your child! Most orthodontic problems can be successfully treated in the early teens since they are still growing at that time. In fact healthy teeth, bones, and gums respond well to orthodontic treatment at any age. Thus many orthodontic problems can be treated during adulthood also. Thanks to the various aesthetic treatment options now available, you’ve more choice than ever!
  • How long does orthodontic treatment take?
    Every smile responds differently to treatment and treatment times vary depending on a number of factors including the severity of the case, type of brace used, and compliance during treatment, but most importantly each patients bone biology. Some teeth move alot quicker than others. Treatment times vary greatly from case to case but your orthodontist will give you an estimate of the likely length of treatment at your consultation. Advertisements suggesting that their treatments that can all be completed in a short space of time, is usually too good to be true! Somes teeth can be straightened in a short space of time, but not all! The most important point is that you get the very best result achievable to protect your teeth longterm.
  • Which treatment is the fastest?
    Thanks to advances in technology, the length of orthodontic treatment has reduced. In order to ensure your treatment goes as quickly as possibly: Follow your orthodontists instructions throughout treatment relating to oral hygiene, diet and brace wear. Attend all appointments made for you by your orthodontist. Each missed appointment extends your treatment time by 2 months!
  • Do braces hurt?
    In general, not really! Having you brace fitted is generally painless. Usually most patients feel some discomfort for a couple of days afterwards once your teeth, gums and mouth get used to the new braces and as the brace is adjusted - like new shoes! Over-the-counter pain medication can be used to improve any discomfort, but are usually not necessary.
  • How much will it cost?
    Treatment costs vary according to the length of treatment and the type of brace used, but remember that orthodontic treatment is an investment in your health and wellbeing! Dr. O’Connell will work with you and discuss the payment plans available which are all interest free. Don't forget, all orthodontic treatment is eligible for a 20% refund from the government and we will give you the MED2 form needed to apply for this.
  • Will I need to have any teeth out?
    Sometimes it is necessary to have teeth removed to create enough space to straighten your teeth and achieve the best result however this isn't often. Following an assessment with Dr. O’Connell she will discuss this with you and determine whether it is required. The majority of adults are treated without the need for extractions. Some children do require extractions but again not always. If extractions are needed, then we will ask your own dentist to do this.
  • Will my speech be affected?

    In most patients, No! But this does depend on what type of brace you have. Some braces can affect your speech more than others for example braces on the inside of your teeth (lingual braces). However this is usually only for a few days until your tongue gets used to the brace.
  • I had braces before, but my teeth are crooked again. I don’t want metal braces again. What are my options?"
    Thankfully with advances in technology, there are lots of options for you to choose. There are a number of excellent aesthetic options including ceramic (tooth-colored) braces, lingual braces, which are placed behind the teeth, or clear aligners. Even metal braces are much smaller and more discreet than ever. Dr. O’Connell will discuss your options with you and determine what type of treatment will be best suited to your needs.
  • Can I get braces on the top teeth only as my bottom teeth aren’t crooked/don’t bother me?
    While straightening the top or bottom teeth only is an option, we want to make sure your bite is also perfect and the best way to ensure this is to treat both top and bottom teeth together. This does not mean you cannot have braces on one arch only but it is something that can only be answered by visiting an orthodontist for an exam and consultation.
  • What is a retainer?
    Once your teeth are straight and you have the smile you’ve always wanted, we want to keep it that way! So we ask you to wear retainers to hold your teeth in their new position. Teeth will always want to move back towards where they started so it’s really important to wear your retainers to prevent this happening. Sometimes, Dr. O’Connell will also fit a wire on the back of your front teeth for extra security, only if deemed clinically necessary.
  • How long do I need to wear retainers for?
    For as long as you want your teeth to remain straight! As we grow our jawbone, muscles and gums all change increasing the risk of your teeth moving. So if you want to keep that beautiful smile, we recommend you wear your retainers forever. But don’t worry, after the first year, they only need to be worn 2-3 nights per week!
  • Does Dr.O'Connell do Invisalign?
    Absolutely! Have a look at the 'Invisalign' section on this site to learn more about Invisalign or simply book a consultation with Dr.O'Connell to see whether it's suitable for you!
  • What are elastics and would I have to wear them?
    Elastics are small loops that Dr.O'Connell will ask you to attach to your brace during treatment. The idea of the elastics is to guide your teeth into the best position to ensure your bite is correct. Usually the elastics are worn full time or just at night time. We believe elastics are a really important part of your treatment and the success of your treatment will depend on how well they are worn, whether its standard fixed braces or invisalign. Without them, we cannot achieve the very best bite for you.
  • Does Dr.O'Connell do braces on the inside/backs of your teeth?
    Of course! Dr. O'Connell uses the original lingual system, Incognito. This brace is extremely discreet and often never noticed by others when speaking. If this is something that interests you then book a consultation to discuss more.
  • Dr. O'Connell spoke to me about polishing between my teeth, what's the aim of this?"
    During treatment, polishing (interproximal reduction) may be required to create space to allow your teeth to align. This involves minor reshaping of the surfaces between a number of your teeth and the amount is kept to a minimum. Studies have shown that when performed carefully, reshaping is not detrimental to your teeth or gums and it is performed without a local anaesthetic. It is something we undertake very regularly for adult patients.
  • Should I be wearing a mouth guard when playing sport?
    Most definitely! If you play sports, it’s recommended you wear a mouthguard in order to protect your teeth, gums and your brace during treatment. Please let us know if you need help finding the right mouth guard for the best protection.
  • I work 9-5pm, are there appointments available outside of these hours?"
    Sure! Dr.O'Connell works until 6pm at her Swords clinic and from 7:30am - 7pm at Docklands Dental.
  • How long will my first assessment appointment take?
    On average, 30 minutes.
  • What are the attachments on your teeth with Invisalign?
    In order for Invisalign to be most effective, the use of small, tooth coloured 'bumps'/attachments are placed on the surfaces of a number of teeth, some of which may be front teeth. This ensures the plastic aligner has a surface to press against when trying to move the teeth & therefore makes the treatment as effective & treatment time as short as possible.
  • What if I need to cancel/reschedule a consultation appointment?
    Please let us know as soon as possible if this is the case. We appreciate plans can change last minute so it's usually no problem to reschedule your appointment. A cancellation charge may apply if at least 24 hours notice is not given.



Don't see your question above? Please feel free to email us on and we will do our very best to answer any questions you might have.

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