Please click on a question to jump to the answer.
- What is orthodontics?
- What’s the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?
- What’s the right age for orthodontic treatment?
- Why have orthodontic treatment?
- Do I need a referral?
- What happens at your first visit?
- What happens next?
- When can I start treatment?
- Will I need teeth extracted?
- Do I have to wear metal braces?
- What are retainers?
- Will I still be able to talk when I have braces?
- Do braces hurt?
- Will braces cause ulcers in my mouth?
- Does it hurt to eat with braces?
- Is there anything I can’t eat?
- What happens if a bracket falls off?
- What are the fees involved for treatment?
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is that branch of dentistry that specialises in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of problems in the alignment of teeth and jaws. Common problems encountered include crooked or crowded teeth, protruding or “bucky” teeth and incorrect jaw development. The technical term for these problems is malocclusion, which literally means bad bite. Orthodontic treatment involves the design and use of corrective appliances (such as braces, plates, and functional appliances) to bring the teeth and jaws into proper alignment.
What’s the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dentist who has completed a 3-year full time university master’s training program that enables them to specialise in the area of orthodontics. Orthodontists do not generally perform general dental treatments such as fillings, extractions, crowns or tooth whitening.
What’s the right age for orthodontic treatment?
The Australian Society of Orthodontists recommends that children receive a specialist orthodontic examination at age 7 if a parent or the family dentist discovers a problem. The timing of orthodontic treatment is extremely important and greatly affects the treatment result. Since no two patients are alike, there is no specific age that is best to begin treatment. Treating children during their growth stages allows orthodontists to achieve results that may not be possible when face and jaw bones have fully developed.
This early treatment can prevent more serious problems from developing and simplify future care. Typically, full treatment with braces is started when all the permanent teeth have erupted – usually between the ages of 10 and 13. In some cases, it is an advantage to start just before the last baby teeth are shed.
In the past, orthodontic treatment was generally restricted to children. However, the basic process involved in moving teeth is the same at any age and orthodontic treatment is also successful for adults.
Why have orthodontic treatment?
Aside from the obvious improvements in smile aesthetics and self-esteem, orthodontic treatment can also lead to improvements in oral health and function. Orthodontic treatment will:
- Create beautiful looking teeth and an attractive smile
- Contribute greatly to facial aesthetics
- Enhance your self confidence
- Reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease by improving “cleanability”
- Decrease the risk of irregular or excessive tooth wear
- Help establish normal oral function related to chewing, breathing and speech
- Decrease the risk of dental trauma (accidental chipped, broken or lost teeth)
- Correct improper jaw relationships and reduce stress on the facial muscles and jaw joints
Do I need a referral?
No, but it is recommended you see your general dentist for a general check-up beforehand.
What happens at your first visit?
Each individual’s orthodontic needs are different and deserve personalised attention. Your initial visit is an opportunity for us to get to know you and to help determine your orthodontic goals.
At your first visit, the Doctor will give you (or your child) a comprehensive orthodontic examination. This entails looking at your teeth and jaws, and how they fit together. An assessment will also be made of gum health, oral hygiene and facial symmetry. The Doctor will then review his findings with you and give advice on the treatment options available, when treatment should commence, the expected duration of treatment, and the approximate cost.
What happens next?
If it is determined that orthodontic treatment is necessary, arrangements will then be made for the taking of pre-treatment diagnostic records (Dental Casts, Photographs and X-rays). These records provide essential information for diagnosis and treatment planning. A subsequent consultation appointment can then be arranged to discuss the findings of these records, present a detailed treatment proposal and outline the financial aspects of the proposed treatment.
Each individual case presents unique challenges, with unique opportunities to achieve a beautiful and functional smile. That is why we take the time to fully diagnose and explain the details of our findings before starting any recommended treatment.
When can I start treatment?
Once you are comfortable with the proposed treatment plan and treatment objectives then you are ready to proceed into orthodontic treatment. Treatment times vary significantly depending on age, the severity of the initial problem, type of orthodontic appliances used and patient compliance. Comprehensive orthodontic treatment typically lasts between 1 1/2 and 2 years with appointments scheduled every 4-8 weeks. Once treatment is completed, retainers are worn to maintain the results.
Will I need teeth extracted?
We believe in non-extraction treatment whenever possible. With this goal in mind, we stress the importance of early screenings and intervention when necessary for children. Even with early screening, about 20% of patients with crowding problems may need some teeth removed to create space to align the remaining teeth.
Do I have to wear metal braces?
No. We offer all the latest innovative options in orthodontic treatment, particularly for our adult patients. These include tooth-coloured braces, CLEAR or porcelain braces and Invisalign® tooth aligners. Colourful rubber bands make braces fun for many of our younger patients.
What are retainers?
At the completion of the active part of orthodontic treatment, the braces are removed and retaining appliances (retainers) are fitted to hold the teeth steady in their new position. These appliances may be removable plates or wires fitted behind the teeth. Retainers play an important role in orthodontic treatment success. If they are not worn according to instructions, the teeth will move back towards their original position. The retaining appliances are usually worn:
- Full-time for three months to one year
- Just at night for a further year
- One or two nights a week for the rest of your life
Will I still be able to talk when I have braces?
Yes, braces should not affect how you talk or the sound of your voice.
In certain cases, we may need to use an appliance that could get in the way of your tongue. However, your tongue will readjust in about one or two days and you will be able to talk normally.
Do braces hurt?
The majority of patients experience slight pressure or discomfort for about two or three days after their braces are first fitted and then a day or two after each adjustment.
Will braces cause ulcers in my mouth?
When you first get braces, you might experience some rubbing in your mouth. We provide orthodontic wax and silicone to our patients when they get braces put on as this helps protect the inside of your cheeks from rubbing against the braces. Your gums and cheeks will become accustomed to the braces and after a while you shouldn’t need to use wax or silicone anymore.
Does it hurt to eat with braces?
For some people the first few days your teeth will feel a little tender and they may wish to eat softer foods.
Is there anything I can’t eat?
You can eat most of the good things that you eat now. However, hard, sticky, crunchy foods should be avoided because they may stick to the brackets and pull them off your teeth. In addition, the sugar can get around behind the braces and cause cavities. Foods which should be avoided include :
- Minties and Toffee
- Caramels such as fantales
- Corn chips
- French bread sticks, bread crusts or hard rolls
- Whole apples or carrots (cut them into pieces first)
- Corn on the cob (cut the corn off the cob before eating)
What happens if a bracket falls off?
We will re-bond it. If this was to occur make an appointment with us as soon as possible.
What are the fees involved for treatment?
Fees vary depending on what type of problem or problems the patient presents with and on the treatment plan selected. At the first consultation we will give you an estimate of the fee.