FAQ’s about Orthodontics and treatments

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the specialty of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of problems in the alignment of the teeth and jaws. Orthodontic treatment involves the use of braces, removable appliances or other corrective devices to move teeth and jaws into ‘normal’ alignment. It may involve changing the position of the teeth or modifying the way the jaw grows (dento-facial orthopaedics).

What is an orthodontist?

After graduating as a dentist, an orthodontist completes a Master’s Degree, involving an additional three years of University and research. Orthodontists are specialists who only practice orthodontics and dento-facial orthopaedics.

My family dentist says he/she can straighten my teeth.

An orthodontist has three years of specialised training beyond dental school and is a specialist at straightening teeth and ensuring proper form and function. A dentist may see a handful of cases a year between drilling and filling teeth. An orthodontist only practices orthodontics and treats hundreds of patients.

Do I need a referral?

No you don’t. Although, we do recommend you see your dentist for a check-up before your braces are fitted.

When is the best time to start orthodontic treatment?

Smiles can be enhanced at any age but most orthodontic problems are best treated when a person is young. The best age to start orthodontic treatment varies from person to person depending on their particular problem. Dr Jimenez and her team recommend an initial assessment at 8 years of age so that treatment can be started at the ideal time. In some cases, early interceptive treatment can take advantage of facial growth and as a result tooth eruption may reduce the severity of a problem, which simplifies future treatment and reduces treatment time.

However, in most cases, reviews every 6 to 12 months are recommended to monitor growth until the optimum time to start treatment.

Am I too old for orthodontic treatment?

Braces are not just for kids and adolescents any more!

Modern techniques and materials have allowed mature patients to successfully and happily undertake orthodontic treatment. Adult patients can start treatment at any age if their teeth, gums and supporting zones are healthy. Due to the fact an adult’s facial bones are no longer growing, certain asymmetrical corrections cannot be accomplished with braces alone. These changes can be achieved successfully using a combined approach of orthognathic surgery and orthodontics.

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Orthodontic appliances work by gently pressing on teeth. Over time, these forces will move teeth into the desired position. Braces are a combination of brackets and arch wires. The brackets are attached to the teeth, while the arch wire provides the necessary force to move teeth. In many cases, a combination of braces, elastic bands, expanders, headgear or functional appliance is needed to improve the bite and jaw discrepancies. Braces need to be adjusted periodically so that they move correctly and at optimal speed.

Do braces hurt?

The modern brackets and wires available today make wearing braces simple and easy.

It is normal to experience some slight discomfort after placement of orthodontic appliances and following your adjustment appointments. Any discomfort is usually mild and is controllable with non-prescription analgesics, like Nurofen or Panadol.

Initially, braces feel like they ‘stick out’, but your 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 around the brace that is causing irritation.

Are lingual braces more uncomfortable?

Initial discomfort is similar to that of outside braces. The difference is that the Lingual Braces will affect the tongue and conventional braces will affect the cheeks and lips. It takes approximately 1-2 weeks to get used to them. The new generation of lingual brackets are small, streamline and extremely comfortable (Incognito).

Do teeth need to be removed?

We prefer to avoid this, but in some cases extraction of teeth may be recommended. This decision will only be made after careful analysis of all possible alternatives. We do not recommend the removal of teeth unless it is absolutely necessary.

How often do I get my braces adjusted?

Adjustment appointments are scheduled according to the patient’s needs and the stage of treatment. Most patients are seen every 6-8 weeks. The process of tooth alignment is not a fully automated system and needs regular monitoring by your orthodontist.

Are there foods that I cannot eat while wearing braces?

Yes. When your braces are fitted, we will provide you with a comprehensive list of foods to avoid. Hard and sticky foods should be avoided in particular.

Most unscheduled visits to repair broken or loose braces can be avoided by following our guidelines. Also, avoid chewing pens/pencils as this may also damage your braces. It is important to minimise the number of breakages when wearing braces, as these can significantly increase your treatment time.

Can I schedule all of my appointment after school?

Some long visits will need to take place during school hours, such as fitting and removal of appliances. However, the majority of your appointments will be short adjustments (10 – 15 minutes) and can usually be scheduled before or after school.

How long will I need to wear braces?

The length of treatment depends on the severity of the problem, growth and patient cooperation. Severe problems take longer and require more cooperation. The average treatment time in braces is 18 to 24 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 quality of the final result.

What is retention? How long do I need to wear retainers?

After braces are removed, a retainer is worn to prevent your teeth from moving back towards their original position. Retainers provide assurance that your teeth will stay in perfect alignment while your jaw continues to grow. The longer you wear your retainer, the better your chance that your teeth will remain straight.

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

Yes, definitely. Regular check-ups with your dentist are important during orthodontic treatment to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Can I still play sports?

You sure can, although we recommended that patients protect their teeth by wearing a mouthguard while playing sport. We can provide these upon request.

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. We also recommend the use of tooth mousse to further protect your teeth in high-risk patients.

How much will treatment cost? Are financing options available?

It is impossible to give an exact cost until we have examined your teeth. The cost of treatment and payment options will be presented to you during your initial visit. We have several flexible payment options available to suit your needs and we will take the time to explain these to you carefully.

Want to know more?

To find out how orthodontic treatment may be beneficial to you, contact us today.