Look through our Frequently Asked Questions for answers to questions you might have, and we encourage you to browse our website for more in-depth information.
The following are some questions frequently asked by previous patients that may help you.
Orthodontics is the specialised type of dental treatment that corrects all types of bad bites, ranging from minor to severe, that happen to many of us as children or as adults.
An orthodontist is a dentist who has had an extra 3 years of fulltime university study in orthodontics, and who has completed all the requirements to register as a specialist in orthodontics. Orthodontists are restricted to performing orthodontic treatment only.
Braces are small “handles” that are stuck on to most or all of the teeth to allow the orthodontist to control the movement of the teeth in three dimensions. Braces are the universal tools used by orthodontists to achieve the best results in most patients.
The most common types of braces are metal or clear (both with and without colours). Braces are usually stuck on the front of the teeth but there are special types of braces that can be stuck on the back of the teeth.
An orthodontic “plate” is a general name given to many different types of orthodontic appliances (except braces) that are used to move teeth. There are removable plates that can be taken out for brushing teeth and fixed plates that are stuck to the teeth to make them easier to wear.
Orthodontic plates are sometimes used with braces to achieve something that braces may not be able to do or they are sometimes used alone for basic treatment.
Every bad bite is slightly different and so every course of treatment is different. Orthodontic treatment can take from 4 months to 3 years but the most common treatment times for the most common issues are between 12 and 24 months.
Some people’s teeth move faster than others but all patients can make sure that their treatment moves as fast as possible, with the best results possible, by following a few simple principles. Excellent results are achieved by keeping to all scheduled appointments, by keeping the teeth and gums healthy by brushing well, by following instructions exactly with the wearing of elastics if you have been asked to wear elastics, and by being gentle with the braces to try to prevent any breakages. These principles are easy to carry out but are only effective if done consistently.
You can certainly continue to eat most of your favourite foods but it depends upon HOW you eat them. We ask you to steer clear of any foods that can’t easily be modified into smaller softer portions to avoid any real biting or chewing pressure when eating. This gentler style of eating will prevent breakages and will result in an uninterrupted, smoother and shorter course of treatment to a beautiful result.
You can, if you prefer, but we have easy payment plans (no finance charges) and various convenient means of payment that make your treatment even more affordable. The more that is paid within a financial year, the more you are likely to be able to deduct from your taxable income in that financial year – please check with your tax agent/accountant for specific details.
We offer the convenience of arch moulds, digital orthodontic imaging and photography at our office. For patients that are keen to save a visit, these procedures may be able to be done immediately after the Orthodontic Check-up appointment.
Fitting an orthodontic plate or braces is painless with no numbing of teeth or gums necessary. Braces and many types of plates are simply stuck to the teeth so the fitting appointment is more boring than painful – so bring your music to listen to or we have TV for you to watch.
People have different reactions to the feeling of orthodontic pressure on their teeth. About half a day after starting treatment you are likely to notice a feeling of “bruising” of your teeth, particularly when eating, which starts improving after day two and lasts for usually between three and five days for most people. If you take whatever you would normally take for a mild headache, two to three hours after your visit, and if necessary, for up to a couple of days, you are likely to find this tenderness more comfortable.
Since teeth try to move back partially along the path they have been moved unless the teeth are guided carefully for 9-12 months after treatment, it is advisable, for most patients, to wear retainers to manage this after-treatment movement phase.
An important concept to be aware of is that teeth never lose the potential to move and even though the teeth may have been retained for many years, they can still move into a different position at any later stage, whether you have had orthodontic treatment or not. We will advise you of ways in your specific case to reduce the risk and the amount of movement after treatment.
Whether we have had orthodontic treatment or not, whether our teeth were straight to start with or not, many of us find our teeth move further out of position over time.
This is often most noticeable in the late teens and early twenties, but there is no age generally where healthy teeth lose the potential to move. Thorough diagnosis and careful treatment of your bad bite will reduce the chances of movement later but even this attention to detail will not totally get rid of the risk of changes in your bite over time.
The most predictable way orthodontists have at this stage of keeping teeth in the best looking positions is to encourage patients to actively participate in guiding their teeth for as long as they would like to keep their teeth in good positions. You will be given a retainer programme that is specifically designed for your bite to help you reduce the risk of changes in tooth position for as long as you wish to keep the teeth in a good position.
The wisdom teeth are now understood not to cause the tooth crowding that happens from the late teens onwards. This crowding occurs in two out of three people, whether they have straight teeth or not to start with, whether they have had orthodontic treatment or not, and whether they have wisdom teeth or not.
If your dentist sees on x-ray that the roots of your wisdom teeth are mostly formed and that one or more of the wisdom teeth will not be able to erupt fully, usually between 18 to 22 years of age, you will probably be advised to consider either having the wisdom teeth removed or, if you choose not to have them removed, to have them checked by x-ray every couple of years.
The best age to see an orthodontist is when you first think there might be a problem with your bite.
Timing of orthodontic treatment in all bad bites makes a big difference to the ease of treatment and the results. Different bad bites are best treated at different ages but your orthodontist will advise you of the best time to treat your particular bad bite.
For young children, when the first adult teeth erupt into the mouth, or by age 7-8, if you think there might be a problem with the bite, see your dentist or an orthodontist to advise you.
For adolescents and adults the best approach to an orthodontic check-up is that sooner is always better than later.
No, you don’t need a referral to see an orthodontist. All that is required is to phone our office to arrange an appointment. Alternatively, click on the “Self referral” button on our website where you can submit your preferred contact details and our friendly reception staff will contact you to arrange an appointment.
On the other hand, it is quite likely also that your dentist has seen a developing bite problem and has suggested an orthodontic check-up. Either way, we are happy to send a report to your dentist with information about your treatment. We encourage you to have a check-up with your dentist, if you are due, before any orthodontic treatment is started.
Yes, it is important for you to keep up the regular visits to your dentist during your orthodontic treatment. The orthodontist relies on you to see your dentist during treatment to help keep your teeth and gums healthy exactly as you would do if you weren’t having orthodontic treatment.
It is also important to have a dental checkup before orthodontic treatment is started, if you are due.
Most Health Funds have an option for covering Major Dental and Orthodontic items. There is usually a one-year waiting period from the time of joining a Health Fund before you are able to receive any Orthodontic benefits. If you are thinking of joining a Health Fund or upgrading your cover solely because you have become aware that you or a family member needs orthodontic treatment in the future, carefully check with the Health Fund that the rebates you will receive from the Health Fund at the time of the treatment will be worth the extra premiums.
Before starting treatment, we will provide you with information about the specific treatment item numbers, treatment description and fees that apply to your specific treatment plan. With this information, you will be able to find out from your Health Fund what benefits you are entitled to receive, before any treatment is started.
We will always try to provide a treatment plan that does not need the removal of teeth, provided that it doesn’t compromise the health of your teeth and gums. Sometimes teeth do need to be removed to get a good result. With current techniques and appliances, fewer people are having teeth removed for orthodontic treatment than in the past. If tooth removal is unavoidable, the orthodontist will refer the patient to their dentist for the removal.
With any fixed orthodontic appliances, including braces, you can play most sports if you wear a mouth guard. Removable appliances should be taken out for sport.
After a short period of adjustment while you are getting used to the braces, you will be able to continue playing as usual.
With braces, you will need to brush your teeth carefully at least three times a day to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy. We encourage you to floss at least once daily under the braces to keep the areas between your teeth clean. This will help you to achieve the healthiest and best-looking bite possible. We will show you how to keep your teeth, gums and braces clean after your braces are fitted.
This is a very easy appointment where, after meeting our friendly Reception Staff, Dr. Murphy will check your teeth and your bite, and he and his skilled staff will discuss with you your concerns about your bite and in simple terms outline the various ways your bad bite can be treated. As a result of this discussion one of the following paths will be recommended:
- No treatment necessary.
- Defer treatment to a later date – recommend a review check-up be arranged for a later date.
- Ready to start treatment – recommend x-rays, moulds and photos to investigate treatment options fully if wish to consider starting treatment within 2 to 12 weeks. Records may be able to be taken immediately if you wish to save time.
- Further assessment required – one of the paths above will be recommended after further assessment.