FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry which specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
An orthodontist is a specialist who has completed a 4 year (post-graduate) advanced education program following undergraduate dental degree and some clinical work experience. The course teaches the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development.
Braces are steady gentle pressure to gradually move healthy teeth into their proper positions. The brackets that are placed on the teeth and the archwire that connects them are the main components. When the archwire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies pressure to move the teeth to their new more ideal positions.
Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, but average time is 18 to 30 months. Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth and severity of the correction necessary. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.
- A more attractive smile
- Better function of the teeth (chewing and digestion)
- Increase in self-confidence
- Increased ability to clean the teeth
- Improved wear patterns of the teeth
- Better long term health of teeth and gums
- Guide permanent teeth into more favourable positions
- Reduce the risk of injury to protruded front teeth
- Aid in optimizing other dental treatment
- Upper front teeth protrude over the lower front teeth (bucked teeth)
- Upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting (deep bite)
- Upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower front teeth (underbite)
- The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
- Crowded or overlapped teeth
- Finger or thumb sucking habits which continue after six or seven years old
- Difficulty in chewing
- Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
- The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
- Spaces between teeth
Orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before jaw growth has slowed. Early treatment may mean that the patient can avoid surgery and other serious complications at a later time in life. The South African Society of Orthodontists (SASO) and the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist by age 7 or earlier if a problem is detected by the parents, family dentist or the child’s physician.
Phase I or early interceptive treatment is limited orthodontic treatment (i.e expander or partial braces) before all the permanent teeth have erupted. Such treatments can occur between 7 and 10 years. This treatment is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites, overbites, underbites or harmful oral habits. Phase II treatment is also called comprehensive treatment, because it involves full braces when all of the permanent teeth have erupted (usually between 11 and 13 years).
Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. 25-30% of our patients today are adults.
The placement of bands and brackets on your teeth does not hurt. Once your braces are placed and connected with the archwires you may feel some soreness of your teeth for one to four days. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth.
No, however, it is recommended that patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouth guard when participating in any sporting activity. Mouth guards are inexpensive, comfortable and come in a variety of colours and patterns.
No, however, there may be an initial period of adjustment. Please let us know if you play a wind instrument (prior to treatment) so that we ca use special brackets which virtually eliminate any adjustment period.
Yes, you should continue to see your general dentist every 3 to 6 months for dental check-ups and cleanings.