Frequently asked questions about orthodontics
Get answers to your questions on orthodontics here in our FAQ section.
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is part of dentistry and focuses on treating irregularities of the teeth and jaws. These irregularities, such as crooked teeth, over or underbites, crowding or spacing issues, can also affect the function of teeth, which is what the practice of orthodontics addresses.
Sometimes our teeth and jaws grow in such a way that they aren’t positioned as straight as they could be. This can be the result of a number of reasons such as a heredity issue, childhood behaviour such as thumb sucking, poor oral hygiene or simply that our teeth and jaw don’t grow as well as they should. If you have crooked teeth, gaps between your teeth, protruding front teeth, or if your lower teeth sit over the top of your upper teeth, you could benefit from orthodontics.
What does orthodontic treatment involve?
Orthodontic treatment requires you to see an orthodontist (an orthodontist is a dentist who has an additional 2 to 3 years of master’s study in orthodontics beyond a 5 year dental degree) who will assess your teeth and jaw and recommend treatment. More often than not, this treatment will be in the form of braces or aligners, such as Invisalign, which you will be required to wear for up to 24 months, depending on the extent of the treatment you require.
No. Orthodontic treatment isn’t painful, although you may experience some discomfort when you have your braces tightened or your new aligners fitted. This is the result of your teeth being encouraged to move further along the road to their new desired position. This discomfort can usually be relieved by over the counter pain relief, although if pain persists, please contact us.
I want straight teeth but I’m too embarrassed to wear braces. What are my options?
Braces are certainly an effective method of straightening teeth but these days they’re not the only method. Developments in technology and in orthodontic equipment mean there are other options available, such as Invisalign (clear aligners that fit over your teeth like a mouthguard) and ceramic braces (tooth coloured brackets that blend in with your natural tooth colour).
Invisalign aligners are a registered medical device, you should always read and follow the label as well as the instructions of your treating orthodontist.
I didn’t have braces as a teenager and really wish I had. Is it too late?
It’s never too late to have orthodontic treatment. In fact, the majority of orthodontic cases are now adults, rather than children and teenagers. Many adult patients are attracted to the more discreet treatment options, such as Invisalign. Invisalign consists of clear-plastic aligners so the only reason they may be slightly visible is if attachments are required.
Can children have orthodontic treatment?
Yes they can and it’s very important they do if they need it. The Australian Society of Orthodontists (ASO) recommends children have an orthodontic assessment by the age of 8 as this is when potential issues can be identified and prepared for.
My teenager is too embarrassed to wear braces. Are there any other options?
Yes, there are other options such as Invisalign for teens. This is the version of Invisalign specifically designed for the self-conscious teenager as it uses the clear plastic aligners which are virtually invisible. However, the type of orthodontic treatment that is most suitable depends on the extent of the work required. Book your teenager in for a free consultation with us and we can outline the best treatment options available.
Why is orthodontic treatment so expensive?
Orthodontic treatment is very specialised and requires a great deal of care. Although orthodontic treatment can be expensive, we advise you look at it in terms of the investment you are making. We also have payment plans available to help make the cost of treatment more affordable.
What is a retainer?
A retainer is either a small removable plate or a piece of wire fixed to the back of your teeth that is designed to keep your teeth in their new position. This is the last stage in your orthodontic treatment journey and is perhaps the most important stage. Failure to wear your retainer could mean your teeth move back into their original position.
How can I clean my teeth while wearing braces?
Wearing braces won’t stop you from being able to clean your teeth and in fact it’s very important you take great care to clean them. We advise you brush and floss your teeth after every meal and use a fluoride mouthwash. A soft toothbrush or an electric toothbrush will enable you to clean your teeth, as well as the brackets and archwires of your braces, without any problems.
What happens if my braces break?
It is very unlikely that your braces will break but in the event they do, contact us as soon as possible to arrange an emergency appointment.