Q: Do I need a referral?
No. Since orthodontic treatment is not covered by Medicare a referral is not required. Your dentist may refer you but this is only as a courtesy to introduce you. Please feel free to contact us directly or to recommend family or friends to our practice.
Q: 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 during your orthodontic treatment.
Q: Our family dentist said they can straighten my teeth. Are they orthodontists?
Your family dentist can't be an orthodontist. A dentist may have an interest in orthodontics and may have completed some weekend courses, only seeing a handful of cases a year among their general practice. Orthodontists have an additional three years of full time specialised university education beyond general dental training. They have hundreds of patients under their care and consequently the experience and expertise that comes with that. Surprisingly, the cost is usually not significantly different and the rebate from the health insurance providers is often higher for specialists.
Q: When is the best time to start orthodontic treatment?
Most orthodontic problems are best treated when the adult teeth have erupted and you are still actively growing, usually between 12 to 15 years of age. The best age to start orthodontic treatment varies from person to person depending on your particular problem and pattern of maturation. We recommend an initial assessment between 8 and 10 years of age so that treatment can be started at the ideal time. In some patients, early interceptive treatment may reduce the severity of the problem and enhance the final treatment result.
Q: Am I too old for orthodontic treatment?
No. Patients can start treatment at any age if their teeth, gums and supporting bone are healthy. The movement of the teeth through the bone remains the same 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 changes may require the use of simple skeletal anchors or a combined approach of orthognathic surgery and orthodontics.
Q: How does orthodontic treatment work?
Orthodontic appliances work by gently pressing on your teeth within their bony sockets. This pressure on the bone causes the bone to remodel, 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 together. These additional forces are provided by elastic bands, expanders, headgears and functional springs.
Q: How can I shorten my treatment time?
Keeping your appointments and being punctual;
Taking good care of your appliance to prevent breakages;
Wearing your elastics and appliances as instructed;
Keeping your teeth and braces clean.
Q: Do braces hurt?
Wearing braces is simple and easy with the modern brackets and wires available today. It is normal to experience some slight discomfort after the placement of orthodontic appliances and following your adjustment appointments. Any discomfort is usually mild and can be controlled with non-prescription analgesics such as Nurofen or Panadol. Initially, braces feel like they “stick out” but the 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.
Q: Will I need separators / spacers?
If the fixed orthodontic appliance is to be attached to the back molars with metal bands, then separators will usually be placed a week before the appliance is fitted. These separators are used to make space between the teeth so that the bands can go on easily. If the space gets too big, the separators may fall out which is not usually a problem. The separators will normally make the adjacent teeth tender to bite on for a few days.
Q: 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.
Q: How often will I need my braces adjusted?
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 the treatment time.
Q: How long will I need to wear braces?
The length of treatment depends on the severity of the problem that requires correction, growth of the individual patient 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.
Q: Can I schedule all of my appointments after school?
Initial consultations and longer appointments, such as the fitting and removal of braces, will normally be scheduled between 9am and 3pm. The majority of shorter appointments may be scheduled before or after school.
Q: Are there foods that I cannot eat while wearing braces?
Yes. When your braces are fitted, we will provide you with instructions on foods to avoid and care of your appliance. 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. For additional details please see: Appliance Care.
Q: How often should I brush my teeth while wearing braces?
You should brush your teeth after every meal. For additional details please see: Appliance Care.
Q: Can I still play sports?
Yes. We recommended that patients wear a mouthguard while playing contact sport. As your teeth move, the mouthguard will need to be remoulded. If you need a mouthguard please let us know.
Q: How much will my treatment cost and 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 provided with your treatment plan. As an initial guide please see: Payment Options.
Q: Why will I need to wear a retainer?
Once your active treatment is completed and your teeth are well aligned, we want to keep them that way. Deterioration in the alignment of your teeth is a natural aging change. While significant drifting of your 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 your early 20’s. During adult life our faces continue to grow, but at a slower rate, and your teeth will continue to move. We therefore recommend long term retention of some sort to most individuals. Fixed retainers on the inside of the upper and/or lower front teeth are an efficient and comfortable way to maintain alignment for most patients. These fixed retainers will, however, require good oral hygiene care.