It’s normal to have a lot of questions about orthodontic treatment! To make it easy to answer your basic queries, we’ve put together answers for the questions we get asked most often.
No. Some of our patients are referred by their dentist for treatment, but others decide to see an orthodontist on their own. Sometimes it’s for health reasons, or it might be because they’d like to improve the appearance of their teeth.
Generally speaking, we recommend seeing an orthodontist for the first time between the ages of eight and ten, but it’s never too late for orthodontic treatment – even as an adult! If treatment is not required immediately, patients are seen for regular reviews – there is no charge for the review appointments.
Braces usually consist of a set of brackets that are bonded to each tooth, with a wire threaded through them that applies a constant gentle pressure. This encourages your teeth to move into their correct positions. As the teeth shift, we adjust the braces to keep them moving to where we want them.
Unfortunately this is unlikely. There’s a limited amount of space available for the teeth to grow into, and once the adult molars come through in the back it tends to decrease the room available for the front teeth. That leads to crowding and an uneven bite.
Protrusion of the upper teeth can result from the upper jaw being set forward, or from a recessive lower jaw. In most situations there’s a combination of factors.
When the main cause of protrusion is the lower jaw, a twin block works best, and is most effective when children are still growing. This can prevent the need for jaw surgery.
The appliances are removable, and are worn full-time for the first twelve months of a two-year treatment to prepare the jaw for braces. Once the treatment is complete and the braces are removed, a retainer must be worn to hold the realigned teeth in place until the patient has finished growing.
An orthodontist is a specialist dentist who has completed a further 2 – 3 years postgraduate university study in the diagnosis and treatment of orthodontic problems. Andrew, Catherine and Mark are members of the New Zealand Association of Orthodontists (NZAO) and must meet ongoing annual and professional development criteria, which ensures they’re up-to-date with the latest techniques and procedures.
You’re never too old to have orthodontic treatment, and there are now braces available which are very discreet and an excellent solution for patients who are concerned about the appearance of their smile during treatment.
Yes. A tooth with a crown will move just like any other tooth.
We are happy to discuss your ongoing treatment plan. Many patients transfer to us from competent orthodontists overseas. Unfortunately many people are having low cost braces fitted, often in Asia, and assuming an orthodontist will finish their treatment cheaply here. If your braces have not been applied competently, we will need to remove them and start again. It’s the only way we can be sure of an excellent result.
Having your braces put on is completely painless, but the first few days of wearing them can be a bit uncomfortable. We suggest that you take an over the counter painkiller such as paracetamol to reduce the discomfort.
Not if we can possibly avoid it. In some cases a patient’s best result may only be achievable with extractions, but we’ll discuss all options with you before beginning treatment.
You’ll have appointments every few weeks to check up on and adjust your braces. The exact frequency will depend on your treatment plan.
Unfortunately it’s almost impossible to go through a full course of orthodontic treatment without some daytime appointments; this means you will miss some school or work. We try to be as flexible as we can and to schedule routine adjustment appointments for before or after school hours. Longer visits, if required, are usually scheduled during the day.
Yes definitely. Try and see your dentist every six months while your braces are on and avoid sugary foods and fizzy drinks.
Self-Ligating SPEED Braces are our appliance of choice because they’re smaller and more comfortable than standard metal braces. Other options include ceramic braces or Invisalign. Mark or Andrew will discuss with you which appliance will work best with your treatment plan.
The length of treatment depends upon how complex the problem is, how the mouth and face grow, and how the patient co-operates! Braces are usually worn for 12 – 24 months.
You can, but it’s very important to protect your mouth while playing sports. Let us know if you play sport and we’ll provide you with a special mouthguard to fit over your braces.
If you break something, don’t wait for your next appointment! Contact us to arrange a repair appointment as soon as possible; broken fixtures can alter the pressure on your teeth and result in your needing to wear braces for longer. The broken parts can also hurt the inside of your mouth. Any breakages must be fixed during school or work hours as they can take a while to repair.
It is important that you attend regular appointments so that we can track your progress and make any necessary adjustments, otherwise your treatment may take longer than expected. If you miss an appointment we will phone you to re-schedule as soon as possible so that we minimise any delays.
Hard foods such as apples and carrots can snap the brackets off your teeth when you take a bite; chop them up into small pieces and chew with your back teeth. Be careful with nuts, slice corn off the cob with a knife, and avoid popcorn and sticky chewy foods like toffee. Don’t forget: if anything breaks, call us to make an appointment as soon as possible – don’t wait until your next one!
Braces provide great places for food to hide and get stuck, so it’s even more important to take care of your teeth while you are wearing them. Try to brush after every meal; we will show you how. If you’re out for lunch and forgot to bring your toothbrush, have a vigorous rinse-and-spit to dislodge any food.
The inside of your mouth is soft and sensitive, and although the braces are designed to be as comfortable as possible some people do find that the brackets scratch and irritate patches on the insides of their lips and cheeks. Your mouth will get used to it fairly quickly, but in the meantime you can get relief by moulding some soft wax, which we provide, over the irritated parts. The wax can even be flavoured!