What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that specializes in straightening teeth and correcting problems caused by teeth and jaw misalignment. To practice in Australia, an Orthodontist must be a fully certified dentist, and then complete additional dental training and obtain a masters degree in dentistry.
What are some of the signs that treatment may be needed?
Some of the signs that orthodontic treatment might be needed include:
- Upper front teeth that protrude excessively over the lower teeth (excessive overjet)
- Upper front teeth that cover too much of the lower teeth when biting together (excessive overbite)
- Upper front teeth that are behind or inside the lower front teeth when biting (underbite)
- Upper and lower front teeth that do not touch when biting together (open bite)
- Crowded or overlapped teeth
- Spaces between the teeth
- Upper and lower teeth whose center line do not match up
- Difficulty chewing or biting
- Biting the cheek or biting into the roof of the mouth
- Teeth that are wearing unevenly or excessively
- A jaw that protrudes or recedes
- Facial imbalance
- Early or late loss of teeth during childhood
- Finger sucking, tongue thrusting, during childhood
- Ongoing jaw pain
- Other problems involving the jaw or teeth
What are the benefits of orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontic treatment has a number of benefits, such as:
- Straighter, better positioned teeth
- Improved appearance of the teeth, gums and face
- A more attractive smile
- Increased self confidence
- Easier to clean teeth, leading to better long term health of the teeth and gums
- Less tooth wear and longer lasting teeth
- Better fitting teeth, making chewing easier
- Improving tooth position prior to implants or bridges
- Optimization for other dental treatment procedure
When is the best time for an initial consultation?
By 7 or 8 years of age, the blueprint for the face has been established. Some problems are more easily treated early and it can mean the treatment is cheaper and simpler. Some problems are best left until the person is older. A consultation can help determine the nature and severity of the problem, and importantly the timing of treatment and it is comon to be assessed at 8 or 9 years of age.
Why do orthodontic problems occur?
Many malocclusions (orthodontic problems) are inherited, but some are acquired. Inherited malocclusions include crowded teeth, gaps between teeth, extra or missing teeth, cleft palate and a wide variety of other irregularities of the jaws and teeth. Acquired malocclusions might be caused by thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, the airway being restricted by tonsils and adenoids, an accident, dental disease or premature loss of primary teeth. Whether inherited or acquired, many of these problems affect not only alignment or teeth, but also facial development, appearance and long term dental health
Will orthodontic treatment hurt?
There may be a little discomfort when you first begin wearing your appliance or braces, but it should dissipate in a little while. Your braces or appliance will be adjusted every 4 to 8 weeks. These adjustments normally involves renewed pressure on the teeth. This might cause some discomfort after each such appointment, but it should quickly fade. If you are experiencing extreme discomfort or the discomfort does not fade after a few days, please consult us.
Will orthodontic treatment interfere with my activities?
Orthodontic work will not interfere with your lifestyle. Orthodontic treatment will not prevent you from participating in sports, eating or playing a musical instrument, although there may be a short period of readjustment. When involved in any sport or physical activity that could damage your teeth, we recommend you wear a mouth guard. Depending upon your case, we can offer many options besides traditional braces. Inside braces, clear braces, Invisalign or another treatment methods might be suitable for you. So, even if you are involved in a profession or situation where traditional braces might be a problem (i.e. modeling), we can still help you out. Please feel free to ask us about any concerns you may have regarding how orthodontics may interfere with your activities.
How long will it take, and how frequent are the appointments?
It can take anywhere from a few months to two years to correct the position of your teeth. Typically, treatment takes between 12 and 18 months. The time period varies based upon the complications of the case, the treatment method, the dedication of the patient and the body’s response to treatment. Sometimes the teeth move easily, sometimes it takes a little longer. Throughout their treatment, most people will only need appointments every six to eight weeks. The long gap between appointments, possible because of advances in modern orthodontics, gives your appliance time to operate, and ensures that you do not need to readjust your schedule too often to come in for your appointments.
Are there ever complications?
Depending on your case, there may be minor risks involved in treatment. If there are any risks, we will discuss them with you during your initial consultation. Before we begin treatment, we always refer our patients to an oral radiologist for specialized x-rays. These x-rays help us evaluate whether there may be any risks, and to make sure that they are minimal. We also stay in close contact with your dentist to ensure that any problems that may develop are caught and corrected immediately.
How often should I see my dentist during treatment?
During orthodontic treatment you should see your dentist every 6 months. This will help ensure that your teeth and gums stay clean and healthy, and minimize the chance of complications occurring.
Do I need a referral from my dentist?
You do not need a referral from your dentist (or anyone else) to come in for a consultation or to be treated by us. However, we keep in close contact with your dentist during your treatment. You are going to need to visit your dentist regularly throughout your treatment (every 6 months or so). We will also be maintaining close contact with your dentist to ensure that everything goes well. If you do not have a dentist, we can refer you to one.
Why do adults seek orthodontic treatment?
There are many reasons adults choose to pursue orthodontic treatment. Some adults want to have healthier mouths and teeth, and would like to fix long standing or worsening dental problems, while others are concerned with looking better. Some adults are in jobs where their appearance is important and will effect their chances of success. Others are simply fulfilling a lifelong desire. Many people find there are personal and professional benefits to having a beautiful and healthy smile.
What is different about adult orthodontic treatment?
The good news is that Orthodontic treatment is effective at any age. However, there are some differences that have to be noted when treating adults as compared to children: adult jaws are not actively growing, adults are more susceptible to premature loss of permanent teeth, gum disease, bone loss and wearing down of teeth. On the positive side, adults have the luxury of choosing not only how much treatment they want, but the Orthodontic system with which they wish to be treated.