Q When should a child visit the orthodontist for the first time?

A For the majority of children, who have no obvious anomaly in their milk teeth, we recommend that they see the orthodontist for the first time at the age of seven to eight years. If you notice an anomaly in your child’s milk teeth, such as an absence of milk teeth, bottom teeth protruding in front of the top teeth, no interface between bottom and top teeth, etc., your child should see an orthodontist before he or she is seven years old. If your child belongs to the small group of children who are born with a cleft palate, the paediatrician will recommend a visit to the orthodontist soon after the child’s birth.

Q Can anyone be treated using orthodontic braces? 

A Yes, and at any age too. However, orthodontic treatment is most successful in children whose teeth and bones are still actively growing. 

Q What will happen at my first appointment? 

A Your first appointment will take approximately 30 minutes. We will not fit a brace during this session. Instead, we will use the time to make a thorough assessment of your needs, to discuss your orthodontic treatment plan and to decide the optimal time to begin treatment. The diagnostic process involves developing dental study models, taking X-rays and photographs of the current state of your teeth. We will also factor in your own concerns, your dental development and your oral hygiene. Patients who are not ready to start treatment will be reviewed at a later date. For those who are ready to begin immediately, we will make another appointment.

Q What does orthodontic treatment involve? 

A Orthodontic treatment requires wearing a brace (appliance) that is specially made for you. Braces can be made of various materials depending on your diagnosis and on your wishes. Depending on the type of brace, the appliance can move your teeth into alignment, guide the way your jaw grows, and even widen your jaw to make room for crowded teeth. Occasionally, it might be necessary to extract teeth if your mouth is unusually crowded. However, in our practice we seldom extract teeth. We only do so if it is absolutely unavoidable, after a thorough diagnostic process. 

Q What are the different types of orthodontic braces? 

A There are two main types of orthodontic braces: fixed and removable. Different combinations of braces may be used to treat individual cases. Removable braces are used for simple treatment, and these work by exerting a gentle pressure. Removable braces are worn on average for 12 hours a day. Fixed braces allow more precise guidance and these have brackets and bands, which are temporarily attached to the teeth. These braces are fitted after the permanent teeth have grown out. You will not be able to remove your fixed braces without the assistance of the orthodontist.

Q Will braces make my teeth sore? 

A Quite possibly. There may be slight pain, but do not be discouraged. A few hours after fitting your brace your teeth may well feel tender and sore. This is normal. The discomfort may last for several days, and a mild analgesic, such as paracetamol, may be necessary. 

Q How long will my treatment last? 

A This depends on your age and your bite problem. Most people need to wear their braces for about two years. We now use Damon System braces, which can reduce treatment time by several months. You can also help to minimise the treatment period by looking after your braces and wearing them properly. Broken braces and missed appointments will slow your treatment. Achieving a beautiful smile is a team effort and the success and speed of your treatment depends on the partnership between you and your orthodontist. 

Q How often will I need to visit the orthodontist? 

A Generally, a removable brace is adjusted every four to five weeks. A fixed brace will need adjusting every five to eight weeks.