FAQ

What do orthodontists do?

Orthodontists are dental specialists who diagnose and treat problems with the position, alignment or spacing of the teeth, and related irregularities in the face and the jaw. We use a number of special treatments, including braces and other oral appliances, to correct these problems.

Why See a specialist orthodontist?

Your general dentist is great for check-ups, general dental treatment, repairing damaged and decayed teeth, caring for gums and replacing lost teeth using the latest technology. Although a dentist is a highly trained professional at looking after your dental health needs, dentists do not receive significant training in orthodontics. An orthodontist is a specialist who has three years of additional Masters education from a University and is an expert in straightening teeth.

To become an orthodontist in Australia you must: 

  • Complete an AHPRA registered general dental degree.
  • Have the equivalent of at least two years clinical experience as a dentist.
  • Complete an accredited three year full-term university degree in orthodontics.

Be registered as a Specialist in Orthodontics

Some private health funds also rebate the fees for orthodontic treatment at different rates. A specialist orthodontist’s patient receives a more generous rebate.

For orthodontic care, the Australian Society of Orthodontists does not recommend that you risk seeing someone who is not a specialist orthodontist. There are many general dentists offering what initially appears to be "cheaper" treatment, alternative one-size-fits-all solutions, treatments to supposedly avoid braces, or fast treatments. Many of these promises and treatments by general dentists are not backed-up by any science or evidence. It is likely that the results will be unacceptable and will not last without further and more expensive treatment. Such treatments may therefore end-up costing you dearly in terms of your dental health and your hip pocket.

Orthodontists are the only specialists who can accurately give you an informed opinion on the best orthodontic options for your teeth and deal with any difficult issues and unexpected outcomes to help you achieve the smile you desire and a good bite.

To be assured that any practitioner you choose is appropriately accredited and actually is a specialist orthodontist, visit the

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency site and view the Code of Practice available here.

Why should I (or my loved ones) get orthodontic treatment?

The magic of orthodontics video

There are two good reasons: aesthetics and function. Having an attractive smile not only changes the way people see you — it enhances your own self-image as well. Orthodontic treatment also allows your teeth to function better and reduce long-term tooth wear. It also makes it easier to keep them clean, which can improve your overall health.

 

When should orthodontic treatment be started?

You're never too old to begin orthodontic treatment — but if you start at an earlier age, certain problems may be easier to treat. It is a common misconception that a child should not see an orthodontist until they have all their adult teeth.

The Australian Society of Orthodontists, in conjunction with key international orthodontic bodies, recommends that children have their first orthodontic checkup around age 7. This is a good age for the orthodontist to detect orthodontic growth and developmental issues early on. Many children will not require treatment at this age, but in some cases early intervention leads to better long-term outcomes.

How can I recognize a potential bite problem?

Teeth that are protruding, crowded together or erupting out of position are clear indications that treatment is needed (View Examples). Less obvious signs are mouth breathing, frequent biting of the cheek or palate, speech difficulties, and thumb sucking that goes past 3-4 years of age. If teeth don't meet properly when the mouth closes, or if jaws make sounds or shift as they move, this may also indicate an orthodontic problem. You dont need a referral to see an orthodontist, so if you any concerns like these, call us and make an appointment.

Does getting braces hurt? What about wearing them?

Having braces put on is generally comfortable. Modern, hi-tech braces have made a huge difference. Some people experience minor aches or tenderness in the first couple of days or so, as they adjust to wearing their appliances; periodic adjustments may sometimes cause temporary tenderness as well, though it typically lasts only a short time. Over-the-counter mild analgesics can be used to alleviate any discomfort, but are usually unnecessary.

How long will treatment take?

It's different for each person, but generally the active stage of treatment (that is, wearing braces or other appliances) may take from 12-30 months, depending on the individual’s stage of development, complexity of issues, and treatment recommendation. After that, a retainer is worn. Be wary of practitioners claiming to fix your orthodontic concerns in "just a few months".

How often will I come in for an appointment?

It depends on what's being done, and how often you need to be monitored. At the start, appointments can be more frequent, but during active treatment, you'll typically come in to our office once every 6 to 10 weeks.

Will I need to have any teeth extracted?

Gone are the days when people assumed teeth should automatically be removed! Our orthodontist will assess each case individually, and our preference is to avoid extraction where possible. If your teeth are severely crowded (because your mouth is too small to properly accommodate all of them) — or if you have impacted teeth (teeth that are trapped beneath the gum line by other teeth) — then extraction may be necessary. In the case of younger patients, early treatment can decrease the chance of future extractions.

Will I have to watch what I eat?

Yes — and it’s also about how you eat! You should pass up the types of foods that could damage or become trapped in your braces. Some of these include raw vegetables, hard candy, caramel, toffee and ice cubes. Other foods, like fruits, steak and vegetables can still be eaten if you go about it the right way – for example, instead of biting into a whole apple, cutting it into thin slices or grating it is the way to go. We will show you a video of foods to avoid and talk to you about this at the start of your treatment.

Remember: Every time you damage your braces, they are not able to work as effectively, which means you are increasing the length of time you will need to wear them!

Will I be able to play sports/ play my instrument?

In a word: Yes. Of course, whether you wear braces or not, we recommend you wear a mouthguard when playing most sports. We have a simple mouthguard available to purchase that is suitable for wearing over braces. After your orthodontic treatment is completed, we recommend a professionally fitted mouthguard made by your dentist as the best way to protect your fabulous new smile!

Musicians are generally able to play their instruments just as they did before, but they may need a short adjustment period after getting braces. Talk to us about any concerns you have in this regard.

Do I still need to see my regular dentist while I'm getting orthodontic treatment?

You do — in fact, it's more important than ever! Keeping teeth free of plaque (and potentially, decay) can be challenging when you're wearing braces. We will teach you how to brush and floss your teeth while wearing braces or another orthodontic appliance, but good oral hygiene is ultimately up to you! Your dentist can help you avoid problems with frequent cleanings and exams.

Will I wear a retainer when my braces come off?

Almost always, the answer is yes: If you don't wear a retainer, your teeth can rapidly shift out of position — and then all the effort put into your treatment is lost! Your retainer helps you maintain that good-looking smile for a lifetime.

Retainers are worn full time after braces are removed. We will monitor your teeth and retainers for up to two years after your braces come off and we will advise you when you can reduce the hours of wear. Your retainers may require periodic maintenance and adjustment.

Tooth movement can occur at any time, however research has shown that those who continue long-term retainer wear have the best chance of minimizing tooth movement.

There are different types of retainers available; ask us for further information.

Is orthodontic care very expensive?

Orthodontics is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. The cost hasn't increased as fast as many other consumer prices, and many financing options are available that make orthodontic care affordable. Weighed against the true cost of living with problem teeth, however, orthodontic treatment can be a wise investment indeed.

Related Articles

Orthodontics - Dear Doctor Magazine

The Magic of Orthodontics Proper alignment of the teeth is basic to “Smile Design.” Their position dictates how they work together and affects the way you look and smile. Only orthodontic treatment can move teeth into the right position. Simply put, when things look right, they probably are right. Learn the basics of smile analysis and design and whether the magic of orthodontics will work for you... Read Article

Adult Orthodontics - Dear Doctor Magazine

Orthodontics for the Older Adult Healthy teeth can be moved at any age, so there's no such thing as “too old” for braces. In fact, nowadays about one out of every five orthodontic patients is an adult. Yet this figure represents only a small portion of adults who could actually benefit from orthodontic treatment... Read Article