Frequently Asked Questions:

When is the best time to see an orthodontist and to start treatment?

The Orthodontic Associations recommend that children first see an orthodontist as early as age 8, or even earlier if a parent or dentist discovers a problem.

However, it does not mean that every child is ready to start treatment at this age. Early diagnosis and treatment planning can help guide facial growth and may stop serious problems from developing or may make treatment at a later stage shorter and less complicated. In most cases, treatment doesn’t start until early teens (12 - 14 year old).

While the majority of orthodontic patients are children, approximately 25% of patients are adult. The basic process of aligning teeth is the same, so adults can see an orthodontist and have treatment at any age.

Do I need a referral to seen an orthodontist?

No, there is no need for a referral. You can contact the orthodontist directly.

What happens at the first visit?

During the first visit, the patient is examined clinically. Some records such as plaster models of the teeth, photographs of the teeth and face and x-rays of the teeth and jaw may also be taken. This will enable the orthodontist to formulate a treatment plan and discuss treatment options.

How long does the treatment take?

The total duration of treatment ranges from 18 months to 36 months, depending on the presenting problems and age of patients. Every individual also responds differently to treatment, resulting in variation in treatment duration. Patient co-operation is also a major determining factor.

Are retainers needed after orthodontic treatment?

Retainers (plates) are fitted after braces are removed to hold teeth in their corrected positions until the teeth are stabilised.
There will be a period of full-time retainer wear followed by night-time wear. The night-time wear can prevent maturational shifting of teeth as the patients age.

Do I have to have metal braces?

The majority of patients still have metal braces with different coloured "rubber rings " However, there are less visible braces (clear braces) available.

What happens if an orthodontic emergency happens?

Orthodontic emergencies occur occasionally and they are normally quite simple to fix.
Potential emergencies:-
Discomfort/irritation of lips or cheeks - relief wax may be applied to the braces.
Loose brackets - relief wax may be applied to loose brackets or they may need to be taken off and the patient should notify us.
Protruding wire - to apply relief wax and the patient should notify us.
- if wax is not helping and patient is not able to see us soon, the wire may be clipped.

Will I have much discomfort after the braces are first put on?

It is normal to experience some discomfort for 3 - 5 days after the braces are first placed. Soft food is advised as well as over the counter pain relievers. If any ulceration (sores) occur, relief wax may be applied to the braces and some topical gel, e.g. Bonjela may be used on the sores.