Making every smile beautiful
The value of a beautiful smile should never be underestimated. Your smile is one of the most important reflections of your individual personality. Your smile allows you to assert emotions of happiness and joy. It communicates affection, openness, honesty and friendship.
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If you are considering orthodontic treatment options you may be thinking about:
- How orthodontics will benefit you and/or your child
- When should you treatment start and how long will it take
- How is treatment accomplished and what happens once the braces are removed
- Are there invisible teeth straightening options
- What is the cost of braces for adults or children
We have answered some of the questions you may have below.
Please do contact us if you have any other questions.
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specialises in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The technical term for these problems is malocclusion. Most malocclusions are inherited but some are acquired. Inherited problems include crowding of the teeth, too much space between teeth, extra or missing teeth, cleft lip and/or palate and a wide range of other irregularities of the teeth, jaws and face. Acquired malocclusions can be the result of finger or thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, the airway being restricted by tonsils or adenoids, dental disease or premature loss of primary (baby) or permanent (second) teeth.
Often people only consider braces for children but braces are for adults too.rway being restricted by tonsils or adenoids, dental disease or premature loss of primary (baby) or permanent (second) teeth.
What benefits can I expect?
Unsightly teeth can cause considerable personal embarrassment and affect a person’s personality and self-esteem. Unsightly teeth can also affect the way other people interact socially with you. First impressions are most important. Crowded teeth are also difficult to clean and maintain. This may contribute to tooth decay and gum disease and eventual tooth loss.
Using their professional skills, orthodontists design, apply and control corrective appliances (braces) to bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment and achieve facial balance.
When to start and how long is treatment?
Treatment can be started at any time. Generally, early treatment is contraindicated unless adequate patient collaboration is anticipated. In particular the presence of severe facial imbalance is a contraindication because orthodontic treatment alone does little to solve the patient’s underlying problems. The test is whether or not early treatment would` provide a particular patient with a more satisfactory or stable dentition than treatment rendered at a later stage of development.
Treatment started in the late mixed dentition stage offers a compromise that is satisfactory in many ways. When the start of treatment is planned to start no earlier than to coincide with the emergence of the maxillary canines (approximately 9.5 to 11 years in girls and 1-2 years later in boys) it is often possible to treat in one stage since all the remaining deciduous teeth are likely to be replaced in the ensuing year to 18 months.
Cooperation is usually good during this period of development, while the face and dental arches are closer to adult dimensions having attained much of their growth. Treatment for adults has become quite common and excellent results can be achieved. The oldest patient that I have treated was in their early 70′s.
Orthodontists observe the quickest treatment responses in patients who are keen to have treatment and who collaborate fully. For young patients, treatment times might vary between six months and two years depending on the complexity of the problem and the response of the patient’s tissues to treatment.
How is treatment accomplished?
Simple problems are often treated with removable ‘plates’. More complex malocclusions are always treated with fixed appliances or ‘braces’. Sometimes, headgear or ‘night-braces’ are also necessary. In the most severe cases orthodontic treatment is combined with jaw surgery to achieve the best possible result.
Modern braces are much smaller and less obtrusive than they used to be. They may be made of metal, clear resin or ceramic material. Bonded directly to the teeth and kept clean and polished, they’re quite unobtrusive. At the start of treatment there can be some discomfort, but this is kept to a minimum by using heat sensitive arch wires which are soft at mouth temperature. Any discomfort soon passes as the teeth begin to move.
The use of “invisible” clear plastic wafers to align teeth is a very recent development. There are currently multiple suppliers of these specialised appliances worldwide. Ormco “Insignia”™ appliances are designed for use by specialists and are the preferred, and surprisingly cheaper option than the better known “Invisalign” ™ aligners, most commonly used by general practitioners. They are suitable to align teeth and to open or close small spaces, but cannot be used to treat more severe malocclusions.
What happens when the braces are removed?
When braces are removed, retainers are used to help hold the teeth in their new positions. These will be need to be worn for a varying length of time dependant on the individual case. The treatment outcome will be monitored during this time as individual teeth can move independently of each other once the bracing has been removed if they are not adequately retained.
A common misconception is that teeth are like pieces of steel set in concrete: that although the rest of the body changes with age, the teeth will remain straight. The reality is that this is not true! Teeth, bone and gums are living tissues. They are pliable. This is why orthodontic treatment works. With the proper forces applied, teeth can be moved at any age. We have treated patients as young as 3 and as old as 72. We now know that faces never stop growing. Of course the rate of facial growth is very slow in adults but if you think about it, 1/10 of a millimetre of growth every year for 40 years amounts to 4 millimetres which is enough to shift teeth slightly.
With this in mind, it’s not hard to understand that after treatment is complete and the retainers are worn for a period of time, then discontinued, changes could occur. Forces, such as pressure exerted by the lips and tongue, can also cause subtle changes in tooth positions. Chewing food applies pressure to the teeth. Nail biting or chewing on pencils are habits that exert enough pressure on the teeth to move them. So, does that mean that wearing braces is useless … that it’s a waste of time since there is that tendency for relapse?
Of course not! Eighty to ninety percent of the original orthodontic problems are permanently resolved with treatment. Corrections to the posterior occlusion (the way the teeth fit together in the back of the mouth), the anterior over-bite (the way the teeth fit together in the front), and severe crowding are greatly and permanently improved. Experience has taught us, however, that after retainers have been discontinued, in most cases a slight amount of shifting occurs. This usually involves rotations of the lower front teeth, and sometimes rotations of the upper front teeth. The more severe the original problem, the greater the tendency for relapse.
But don’t be discouraged! Even though everything in our body changes with age … skin texture wrinkles, hair thins and changes colour … you can keep your teeth straight. A very simple solution is available to you. All that is necessary is to continue wearing your retainer. That may sound like an unpleasant task, but think about it a minute. If you could sleep on a magic pillow every night to keep your body from changing, would you be willing to do that? If you will think of your retainer as “pajamas for your teeth” then you can keep them straight by wearing it at night.
“Retention” is the term used to identify the time period in which the patient is wearing retainers. The advice given to every patient is to wear the upper removable retainer 24 hours a day for the first four to five months after the braces have been removed. Then, the retainer is worn only at night over the next three years.
During this time, the lower teeth may be retained with a fixed wire placed on the inside of the front teeth. This is worn for at least until the wisdom teeth have been resolved. No additional charges are made for this service for the first three years. If you ever elect to have the lower retainer removed, a small amount of polishing may be performed in between the front teeth to help prevent them from shifting.
After three years or so of active retention, the patient is released with instructions to wear the upper retainer at least “once a week, every Sunday night, just for old times sake”. The patient then becomes his or her own orthodontist. By sleeping in the upper retainer and observing the teeth the patient can see if any shifting takes place. It may be necessary to come back to our office for a check-up. An office visit charge will be made. If the lower front teeth begin to shift, a removable retainer can be purchased to present further relapse. It may be necessary to buy a new retainer every five years or so; but what a small price to pay to keep your teeth straight!
Remember, teeth tend to shift with age. We are here to help you prevent and control that shifting.
They say, “Nothing is forever,” but we say, “Retainers are forever!”
The initial consultation is $65 and an additional X-ray consultation is $240. The cost of extraction, fitting and the braces themselves can vary depending on treatment what is required for each individual patient. See our Fees page for more information on the range of treatment and appliance fees.