Orthodontics is a SPECIALIST area of dentistry that corrects teeth and jaws that are positioned improperly. Orthodontists are dental specialists who have received three years of specialised orthodontic education beyond their five years in dental school. Because there is minimal orthodontic training in dental school, this specialty education makes an Orthodontist the most trained person to treat you or your child’s crooked teeth or improper bite.
By choosing an orthodontist, you can be assured that you have the most qualified person to diagnose, prevent and treat any problems you might have with the alignment of your teeth and jaws. All health professionals can have their registration and qualifications checked on the AHPRA website.
Benefits of Orthodontic Treatment?
Did you know properly aligned teeth are important for more than just aesthetic reasons? Research has shown that orthodontic treatment leads to:
- Improved self-esteem and confidence in smiling.
- A healthier mouth – Crooked teeth are harder to keep clean, being more at risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease.
- Improved chewing and speech.
- A decreased risk of dental trauma and abnormal wear of teeth.
The Orthodontic Process
We believe in creating natural smiles – that means finding the balance between your jaw, nose, lips and teeth. Every patient is different, and the beautiful smile they end up with is a reflection of all the components that make them an individual. Balancing all the contributing factors, and deciding which appliance you could benefit the most from, is what we look at when we create a customised smile that is in harmony your individual traits. That is why we invite you in for a consultation.
The initial exam can be a valuable way to gain a great deal of information about treatment that is right for you, and is usually quite easy for the patient. Please bring your x-rays and completed medical/dental history form. The information gathered is important to better understand your medical/dental history as well as your primary concerns. This is important since there may be different treatment options available, which allows us to provide the recommendations that are right for you.
Once the orthodontist has finished with the examination, the following information may be provided:
- The types of problems (preliminary diagnosis)
- Possible treatment options (preliminary treatment plan)
- The necessity and timing of treatment
- Length of proposed treatment
- Cost of treatment
- Possible alternatives
If you are happy with everything we discuss during your consultation, we can book your next appointment to start treatment.
Now that all of the preliminary work and planning is finished, it is time to start with the braces treatment. The following topics give a general overview of what to expect once treatment begins
Orthodontic records are a vitally important part of the treatment process. They will provide the orthodontist with much needed information about the patient to make an accurate diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Orthodontic records are usually comprised of the following: A clinical exam, Panoramic X-ray, Cephalometric X-ray, sometimes a Cone Beam CT (CBCT), and Impressions (models) of the teeth and bite.
Following the records appointment, the orthodontist will evaluate the information obtained and develop a course of treatment. Although some treatment options may have been discussed at the initial exam, a plan cannot be finalized until all the information has been reviewed.
The consultation appointment is usually scheduled a few weeks following the records appointment. This provides the time necessary to receive the models back from the lab, as well as time for the orthodontist to prepare a treatment plan. The appointment is usually about ½ hour long and will include discussion of the following: diagnosis, treatment plan, alternate treatment options, risks and complications, informed consent, and financial arrangements.
Many orthodontists will use bands on the back molar teeth to provide additional support and to allow for different attachments. The bands are essentially metal rings that completely surround the teeth. Since most people’s teeth do not have spaces between them, it would be nearly impossible or very difficult to place bands without spaces. It would also likely be painful for the patient. Therefore, one of the first steps in the process of placing braces is the separator, or “spacers” appointment. The appointment is needed a week prior to placing bands in order to provide room between the teeth.
Your fitting appointment
Your fitting appointment will be one of the longer appointments with us, usually about 1 hour. During this time we’ll explain to you about how to look after your braces, how to clean your teeth while wearing braces and what to do in an orthodontic emergency.
While you are undergoing orthodontic treatment with us, you’ll need to come in and see us for regular appointments. This allows us to check your appliance is moving your teeth correctly and that your treatment is going to plan. Most adjustment appointments are made in the 3-8 week range. Longer times between appointments may be recommended in some patients since many of the wires used today have a very long working range, and more frequent visits may not be necessary. A normal adjustment appointment may include the following:
- Remove the colored ties that hold the wire into the braces
- Remove the wires
- Allow the patient to brush and floss
- The orthodontist will check the patient and recommend treatment (i.e. new wires, rubber bands, etc)
- Replace the new colors onto the braces
Tightness tends to progress into soreness about 4-6 hours after the adjustment. The tightness and soreness is usually a result of wire changes or adjustments in the wires that eventually result in additional tooth movement. The recommendations for managing the pain are the same as when braces are first placed (i.e. over the counter pain medication). The pain will usually decrease over the next 3-5 days.
In between checkups, it is important to look after your teeth and braces, as any deterioration of your appliance or the health of your teeth can result in prolonged treatment time. It is also important to visit your general dentist for your regular dental check ups.
Removing the Braces
The process of removing braces and the adhesive is relatively painless. It is possible that some of the teeth, especially the lower front teeth, may be sensitive to pressure. When the bracket is lightly squeezed, there may be temporary discomfort.
After the braces have been removed, adhesive remaining on the teeth must also be removed. This is usually done with a slow or high-speed dental hand piece. While this is the same type of instrument used by general dentists when they repair a cavity, be assured that there is usually very little discomfort with the removal process. In fact, most describe the feeling more as a “tickle” on the teeth than pain or discomfort. There is no actual tooth structure being removed in this process. The removal is limited to the adhesive only, and the enamel remains in its normal condition.
The period after your braces come off is called RETENTION. Retention is the MOST important part of orthodontic treatment, as now that your teeth are straight we want them to stay that way forever. Teeth have a natural tendency to move once your orthodontic treatment is complete. This is known as ‘orthodontic relapse’ and it occurs to 90% of patients. Studies show that the only way to guarantee straight teeth for life is through the use of fixed and/or removable retainers for life.
Retainers may be removable or fixed, each with benefits and disadvantages. We will help you decide which type of retainer will suit your individual circumstances.
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