Frequently Asked Questions
What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the area of dentistry dedicated to the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of alignment problems of the teeth and jaws. Orthodontic treatment involves the design and use of corrective braces to bring the teeth and jaws into proper alignment.
When should orthodontic treatment be started?
Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment. Ideally this should start in pre teens at 7 or 8 years of age. Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Things to watch out for in your child’s mouth which may signal a bite problem include:
- Premature loss of baby teeth
- Difficulty chewing
- Teeth that are not contacting
- Biting of the cheek or palate of the mouth
- Wrong bite (under bites, over bites etc)
- Finger or pacifier habits continued beyond the age of 6
- Jaw noises such as clicking and popping that are causing discomfort
What are the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation?
Early evaluation or what is referred to as ‘interceptive treatment’ provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment of your child. Prudent intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later. Some of the advantages of interceptive treatment are:
- Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
- Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
- Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
- Preserving space for unerupted teeth
- Reducing the need for teeth removal
- Reducing treatment time with braces
What Will Happen At The First Appointment?
Your first appointment will take approximately 30 minutes. A brace will not be fitted at this session. At this stage we use the time to assess your problems and how you’d like to look, discuss the treatment plan that will be necessary and the optimum time to start treatment. We will also take into account your own concerns, your dental development and your oral hygiene. Patients who are not ready to start treatment will be reviewed at a later date. For those who are ready to start immediately, we will make an appointment to undertake a detailed diagnostic review including a full medical and dental health history, a clinical exam, dental study models, special X-rays and photographs.
How do you carry out orthodontic treatment?
Treatment involves wearing a brace (appliance) that is specially made for you. Depending on the type, the appliance can move your teeth into position; guide the way your jaw grows, or even widen your jaw to make room for crowded teeth. Occasionally it might be necessary to extract some teeth if your mouth is very crowded.
What are the main types of braces?
There are two types of braces, fixed and removable. Different combinations of braces may be used to treat individual cases. Removable braces are used for simple treatment, and work by exerting gentle pressure. Fixed braces give more precise guidance and have brackets and bands temporarily attached to the teeth. You can read about Damon braces, Invisalign braces, lingual braces on our orthodontic treatments page.
Do braces hurt?
Orthodontic treatment uses appliances (braces) to straighten teeth with gentle pressure. When braces are placed, or when adjustments to your braces are made, your teeth and gums may feel tender initially. The amount of discomfort varies from patient to patient, but usually does not last for more than three days.
What should I do in the first few days of wearing a brace?
Modify your diet. Select soft food items such as soups, pasta, milkshakes, bananas, and yogurt. Use Ibuprofen to reduce any discomfort created by your braces. Soft wax can protect the inside of your lips and cheeks from the potentially abrasive sensation of your appliances.
It is important to maintain meticulous oral hygiene to reduce the likelihood of gum infections or tooth decay. Use Chapstick or lip balm to moisten your lips during treatment.
How long will treatment take?
This depends on your age and your bite problem. Most people need to wear their brace for about two years, but you can make a difference by looking after and wearing your braces properly. Broken braces and missed appointments will slow your treatment down. What you need to remember is that this is a team effort and the success and speed of your treatment depends on the partnership between you, the dental nurses and your orthodontist.
How often will I need to visit the orthodontist?
Generally your braces will need adjusting every 6 to 8 weeks.