Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a referral

No.  Your dentist may provide a letter of introduction but this is as a courtesy because a referral is not required as the costs are not covered by Medicare.

Do I need to see my family dentist while I have braces

Yes. During orthodontic treatment, six monthly checks with your dentist are important to keep your teeth and gums healthy.  It may also be advantageous to have a fluoride application before braces are fitted.

Our family dentist said they can straighten my teeth

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 and have the experience that goes with that.

How does orthodontic treatment work

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.

When is the best time to start orthodontic treatment

Most orthodontic problems are best treated when a person has erupted their adult teeth and is growing. About 12 to 15 years of age.The best age to start orthodontic treatment varies 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 may reduce the severity of a problem , may reduce damage from occuring and make later treatment less difficult.

Am I too old for orthodontic treatment

No. Non-growing patients can start treatment at any age if their teeth, gums and supporting bone are healthy.   The movement of the teeth through the bone occurs the same throughout life if the support structures are healthy.  As the facial bones are no longer growing, certain corrections my not be achieved with braces alone.  These changes may require the use of simple skeletal anchors or a combined approach of orthognatic surgery and orthodontics.Teeth do move a little more slowly as you age.

Do braces hurt

Wearing braces is simple and easy with the modern brackets and wires available today.  It is normal to experience some discomfort after the placement of orthodontic appliances and following your adjustment appointments.  Any 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.

Will I need separators or spacers

.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 around the tooth so that the bands can go on easily.  If the space gets too big the spacers may fall out which is not usually 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.

Will I need teeth removed

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.

How often do I get my braces adjusted

Adjustment appointments are scheduled according to our 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 the treatment time.

How long will I need to wear braces

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 twenty 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.

Can I schedule all of my appointments after school

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.

Are there foods that I cannot eat while wearing braces

Yes. When your braces are fitted, we will provide instructions on foods to avoid and 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.

Are lingual braces more uncomfortable

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.  Lingual braces will initially affect your speech more than labial braces.

How often should I brush my teeth while wearing braces

If you are wearing braces you should brush your teeth at least 4 times a day after every meal and when you go to bed. The brushing after breakfast and before you go to bed need to be very thorough.

Can I still play sports

Yes. We recommended that patients wear a mouthguard 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.

How much will my treatment cost. What payment options are available

It is impossible to give an exact cost until we have examined a patient. The cost of treatment and payment options will be presented to you during your consultations. As an initial guide please see: Payment Options

Why will I need to wear a retainer

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 care.

My family dentist is also an orthodontist

Your family dentist can't be a specialist.  This is a surprisingly common misconception and the health regulators insist that dentists tell their patients, for whom they offer orthodontic care, that they are not specialists.  Certified specialists must have passed rigorous examinations and been registered with the health authorities.  They also limit their practice to orthodontics alone.  Some dentists will have an interest in orthodontics and may have completed some short and less detailed courses.  None of these short courses are recognised by the regulatory authority.

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