No. As dentistry and orthodontics is not covered by Medicare a formal referral is not required to visit an orthodontist. However your orthodontist will communicate with your dentist to fully inform them of any treatment that is being proposed and to make sure an integrated plan is formulated. Your dentist may provide a letter of introduction and any information they feel would be helpful.
Orthodontic appliances work by gently pressing on your teeth within its bony socket which over time remodels, allowing the teeth to move into the desired position. Brackets are attached to the teeth and active arch wires, that engage these brackets, provide the necessary force to move the teeth. In many cases, extra forces are needed to fit the teeth properly together. Examples of these include elastic bands, expanders, headgear and functional springs.
Most orthodontic problems are still best treated when all the deciduous teeth are lost, the adult teeth have erupted and the child is actively growing. This is about 12 to 15 years of age with the start of orthodontic treatment varying from person to person depending on their particular problem and pattern of maturing. We recommend an initial assessment between 7 and 9 years of age so that treatment can be started at the ideal time. In some patients, early interception, at about 8 to 10 years of age may reduce the severity of a problem, may reduce damage from occurring and make later treatment less difficult.
No. Non-growing adults can start treatment at any age if their teeth, gums and supporting bone are healthy. The movement of the teeth through the bone can occur throughout life if the support structures are healthy. As the facial bones are no longer growing, certain corrections may not be achieved with braces alone. These corrections may require the use of simple skeletal anchors or a combined approach of orthognathic surgery and orthodontics. Teeth do move a little more slowly as you age.
Wearing braces is simple and easy with the modern brackets and wires available today. It is normal to experience some slight discomfort and soreness after the placement of orthodontic appliances and following your adjustment appointments. The discomfort is usually mild and is controllable with non-prescription analgesics such as Nurofen or Panadol. Initially, braces feel like they “stick out” but lips and cheeks become accustomed to this after a few days. Until your lips and cheeks get used to the braces on your teeth, you may find it helpful to use a small amount of orthodontic wax or sugarless chewing gum around the offending brace if it is causing irritation.
If the fixed orthodontic appliance is to be attached to the back molars with metal bands then separators will normally be placed a week before the appliance is fitted. The separators are used to make space between the tooth so that the bands can go on easily. If the space gets to big the spacers may fall out which is not normally a problem. However we will often ask you to come back a couple of days before the appliances are fitted to replace the lost separator. The separators will normally make the adjacent teeth tender to bite on for a few days.
We would prefer to treatment plan to the most stable and cosmetic outcome that is achievable. Modern techniques in orthodontics have drastically reduced the number of teeth that require removal for treatment. In some cases, however, the best possible result may require the removal of teeth. This decision will only be made after careful analysis and discussions with you of all the possible alternatives. We do not recommend the removal of teeth unless it is absolutely beneficial.
Adjustment appointments are scheduled according to individual patient needs and the stage of their treatment. Modern super elastic arch wires allow adjustments to be spread at longer intervals with two monthly appointments being common. More frequent adjustments may create greater discomfort with no improvement in treatment progress.
Initial consultations and longer appointments such as the fitting and removal of braces, and major wire changes, will normally be scheduled between 9am and 3pm. The majority of shorter appointments will be scheduled before or after school.
The length of treatment depends on the severity of the problem that requires correction, growth and the level of patient cooperation. More severe problems take longer and require more cooperation. The average full braces treatment time is eighteen to twenty four months but treatment time may be longer than estimated if growth is different than expected or patient cooperation is less than ideal. Orthodontic treatment is a team effort in which you and your orthodontist play important roles that affect the length of treatment and the quality of the final result.
Yes. When your braces are fitted, we will provide instructions on foods to avoid and on the care of your appliances. Very hard and sticky foods should be avoided. Also, avoid chewing pens and ice as this will also damage your braces. It is important to minimise the number of breakages when wearing braces to prevent your treatment taking longer than anticipated.
The initial discomfort is similar to that of outside braces. The difference is that the lingual braces will affect the tongue while conventional braces will affect the cheeks and lips. The rubbing against the tongue is usually more annoying and it takes approximately a fortnight to get use to them. They will initially affect your speech more than labial braces.
Yes. We recommended that patients wear a mouth guard while playing contact sport. Most often a mouthguard from the chemist that can be heated and moulded to the teeth is the most practical type. As the teeth move the mouthguard can be remoulded.
Once your active treatment is completed and your teeth are aligned, it is important to keep them that way. Deterioration in the alignment of your teeth is a natural aging change. While drifting of teeth back to their original position is usually eliminated within two years of wearing retainers, deterioration due to late adolescent growth normally only reduces in the early 20’s. After that our faces continue to grow at a slower rate that will further move the teeth. We therefore recommend long term retention of some sort to most individuals. Fixed retainers on the inside of the upper and/or lower anterior teeth is an efficient and comfortable way to retain alignment for most people. These fixed retainers will however require good oral hygiene and care not to eat very hard foods.
An orthodontist has three years of full time specialised training beyond dental training and is a certified specialist at straightening teeth and ensuring proper form and function. Orthodontists restrict their practice to orthodontics only and therefore have the experience which goes with that.