We have put together a list of questions that our patients frequently ask us:

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the use of braces or other devices to correct crooked teeth. It may involve changing the position of the teeth or modifying the way the jaws grow (dento-facial orthopaedics).

How can orthodontics help you?

Orthodontic treatment can help you in a number of ways:

  • A more attractive smile
  • Reduced appearance-consciousness during critical development years
  • Better function and health of the teeth
  • Increase in self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Improved ‘cleanability’ – Increased ability to clean the teeth
  • Improved force distribution and wear patterns of the teeth
  • Better long term health of teeth and gums
  • Guide permanent teeth into more favourable positions
  • Reduce the risk of injury to protruded front teeth
  • Aid in optimising other dental treatment

What if no orthodontic treatment was done?

In the majority of cases, not treating a malocclusion means that things will probably stay the same at least in the short to medium term. If there are any special problems that would be considered serious if left untreated, this will be discussed with you at the treatment planning appointment.

What age should my children be assessed?

Ideally an initial assessment can be done around the age of 7. Naturally if there are any specific concerns than we should look at these at any time.

What is the difference between orthodontists and general dentists?

Orthodontists are dental specialists with three years of postgraduate training in the field of orthodontics. They have acquired the professional skills in the design, application, control and timing of the use of different types of corrective appliances (braces) in orthodontic treatment. In other words, orthodontists are the people whom you should see to straighten your teeth, improve your smile and facial profile.

Do I need a referral?

No, you do not. Unlike specialist medical practitioners, there is no ethical or legal requirement for you to have a formal referral letter to come to see us. While most patients will have a referral because most general dentists are happy to provide one, it is not a requirement. If you have any concerns about the arrangement of your teeth or your children’s, feel free to give us a call.

Will I need teeth out?

The answer to that depends. In general though these days teeth are only removed when it is clear that removal is the only way to correct a problem. At OrthoSmile Orthodontics, we have a thorough planning process to determine if taking teeth out is the most appropriate action. In fact in some instances we will commence treatment without removal of teeth and reassess mid-treatment to make sure. If at that time, it is clear that we must remove teeth, it can be done then.

Are braces painful?

Fitting braces does not hurt.

However, there will be a short period of adaptation and adjustment, lasting a few days to a week after the braces are placed on. The discomfort that is experienced due to orthodontics is primarily from the forces placed on the teeth to move them. This sensation builds over a period of hours and generally subsides over a few days and can normally be managed by your usual family pain relief. After this initial breaking-in period, patients are able to adapt well to the braces. The levels of discomfort vary with the thresholds of the individuals, with a small group of patients even reporting minimal or no discomfort.

Some patients may also have soreness or ulcers in the mouth, especially in the beginning of treatment. Nevertheless, most patients report a lessening of the discomfort as the treatment progresses.

Can my child choose the colours for the braces because many children in the school have coloured braces too?

Of course. The colours in the so-called coloured braces simply come from the coloured rubber rings (or modules as we call them) that tie the wires onto the brackets. The rubber rings are changed every visit and patients have a range of colours to choose from. The trend towards coloured braces among the younger generation is because having braces is no longer a stigma. It has become a rite of passage for teenagers and they wear the braces with colours to express their personality, moods and affiliation.

What happens after braces are fitted?

You are then usually seen about once every 6 to 10 weeks to have your braces checked and adjusted. You must continue to see your own dentist for check-ups.

How long will the treatment take?

Treatment duration varies according to many factors. Depending on the treatment objectives and severity of the problems, it can range from a few months to two years or more.

On average, comprehensive orthodontic treatment takes slightly over a year to two years for both children and adults. Other factors that will influence the length of treatment time are:

  • The regularity and frequency of attendance by the patient
  • Care and maintenance of the braces by the patient
  • Compliance to instructions during the course of treatment

Most orthodontists agree that the adult treatment will usually take longer due to the difference in the physiologic responses of the tissues in the mouth of an adult as compared with a ten or twelve year old child. Simply put, an adult’s bone structure is denser and firmly set, so a slightly longer response time to tooth movement can be expected.

What happens once the braces come off?

All patients wear retainers after their fixed braces have come off. Your orthodontist will decide whether you will be having fixed and/or removable retainers to hold the teeth, so that the teeth have a chance to settle in their new, corrected positions.

Should the wisdom teeth be removed?

Wisdom teeth are mainly removed when there is inflammation or infection of the gums around them. Various studies around the world have shown that wisdom teeth do not cause or contribute to the progressive crowding of lower incisor teeth that can develop in the late teen years and beyond. Your orthodontist, in consultation with your family dentist, can determine what is right for you.

What are the risks and limitations of orthodontic treatment?

Like all medical or dental procedures, there are risks to orthodontic treatment. Complications are rare, and they are usually minor. They include:

Root Shortening

Treatment can shorten the roots on the teeth. It is almost impossible to predict whether you are susceptible or not. However, shortening of a tooth’s roots rarely has significant long-term effects on the tooth’s vitality.

Jaw Joints

Occasionally, people can suffer pain or dysfunction in the temporomandibular joints (TMJs). These are the joints that hold the upper and lower jaws together. Stress is one of the main causes of problems with the TMJs, and some people are prone to these problems, whether or not they have orthodontic treatment. Discomfort may last from a few days to several weeks. If it continues, your orthodontist may recommend that you consult a specialist in joint disorders.

Tooth Vitality

Teeth may have nerve damage from decay, large fillings or from being knocked in an accident. Orthodontic treatment moves the teeth, and this might aggravate any nerve damage. In rare cases this could lead to loss of the tooth’s vitality and discolouration.

Atypical Growth

During treatment, the jaws may grow too little, too much, or unevenly. This might limit our ability to achieve the results we have planned for your teeth, and treatment might need to be extended to do so. Growth of the jaws after your orthodontic treatment may also affect the results that have been achieved, and more treatment may be needed. In some cases, the bite may change so much that oral surgery is needed to achieve the best possible result.

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