FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION
Do I need to be referred to an orthodontist?
No. absolutely not. You may contact us directly for an appointment
What is the correct age for the first orthodontic screening?
At age 7 most patients are not ready for orthodontic treatment; however, an initial orthodontic evaluation during at time is recommended as a small percentage of possible problems necessitate preliminary/first stage treatment in early childhood. This may also lead to the identification of problems related to jaw growth and permanent tooth eruption whilst the primary (baby) teeth are still present. Developing bite problems may also be identified and initially “managed” by close monitoring of the child’s growth and development.
In short an early orthodontic evaluation would assist the orthodontist in identifying problems and devising the best possible mechanisms of treatment. In cases where facial growth and jaw development seems problematic early intervention can decomplicate treatment and prevent invasive surgery if the problems can be corrected before jaw and facial growth ceases.
What happens at the initial examination?
During your initial consultation the orthodontist will determine the need and best time for orthodontic treatment by means of a comprehensive patient assessment and examination.
If a positive need for treatment is indicated the patient/parent will be informed and presented with a choice of continuing with treatment or not.
If the patient/parent wishes to continue treatment a series of steps follows:
- Gathering information to make a diagnosis and formulate a proper treatment plan. This includes:
- Taking radiographs.
- Taking intra- and extra oral photographs.
- Taking study models of the patient’s upper and lower dental arches (teeth).
- A case consultation will then be scheduled with the patient/parent to discuss the proposed treatment and all related aspects.
- Once the patient/parent accepts the treatment plan treatment will commence.
What are the benefits of early treatment?
Early treatment give’s a child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile as this presents your orthodontist with the optimal chance to:
- Direct (guide) jaw growth.
- Reduce the trauma-risk of protruding front teeth.
- Correct harmful oral habits (e.g. non-nutritive sucking and bruxism, commonly known as teeth grinding).
- Improve aesthetics (appearance).
- Guide permanent teeth into a more favourable position.
- Create a more pleasing arrangement of teeth, lips and face.
Will I need to have teeth extracted for braces?
The need for tooth extraction prior to treatment differs from patient to patient and is addressed during the patient’s case discussion.
It is important to note that tooth extraction in not an issue that orthodontists take lightly and through conservative dentistry, it is avoided as far as possible. However, in some cases, it is inevitable in order to fulfil treatment successfully and will thus be performed in the best interest of the patient
How long does treatment last?
Average treatment time is between 16 and 20 months and patients are provided with an expected treatment time during their case discussion. All cases are unique and therefore treatment plans differ from patient to patient depending on growth, development, problem complexity and patient co-operation.
Once active treatment is completed (braces are removed), patients enter a retention phase where patients will still need to see the orthodontist on a less frequent basis.
How often will appointments be scheduled?
Patients are generally seen every 4-6 weeks; however, this may vary from time to time depending on the phase of the treatment and patient’s progress.
Do braces hurt?
Once braces are fitted, patients usually go through an initial phase of getting used to the appliances, this includes: sore and irritated lips, cheeks, tongue, and teeth.
The adaptation process can be made more bearable by:
- Eating soft foods for the first few days after the braces are fitted.
- Taking some over-the-counter pain relief medication.
- Placing “relief wax” around sore spots and sharp edges of appliances.
- This wax will be provided to you by your orthodontist, it is harmless and can be used whenever it is needed.
- NOTE: sugar-FREE gum can serve as a temporary alternative to wax when you run out.
- Rinsing your mouth with a cup of warm water containing a teaspoon of salt
As patients get used to the appliances they tend to cope better, however, some tightness and pressure will be felt after the initial fitting of braces and periodically after routine visits to the orthodontist.
What should I do if spacers or separators are lost?
If a rubber separator falls out, it is important that you call your orthodontist’s practice for an appointment ASAP. However, spacer loss can be prevented by avoiding sticky foods and by temporarily not flossing between the teeth where spacers have been placed.
What happens if something is swallowed?
The risk associated with the aspiration (swallowing) of an orthodontic appliance is minute and uncommon. If in the rare event that you do swallow an orthodontic appliance (such as a bracket or rubber band), it will most likely pass through your digestive system without any harm your body. However, if the aspiration of an orthodontic appliance results in shortness of breath or choking, please seek immediate medical help. Your attending physician might deem it necessary to take X-rays in order to determine the location of the appliance and to decide on further medical intervention.
Can I return to school the same day that braces are fitted?
Yes. The placement of braces involves no local anaesthetics and/or sedatives and has no effect on a patient’s physical or mental ability therefore the patient can return to school as normal.
Can I play sport with braces?
Yes. Please note that the use of an orthodontic compliant mouth guard (available from your orthodontist) is highly recommended, especially when the patient is involved in contact sports. However, the use of custom-made mouth guards is not recommended as intra-oral changes would result in one needing to have a new mouth guard made every 2-3 months. Once active treatment is completed, a custom-made mouth guard can be used once again.
Should I still see my family dentist?
Yes. Continued, periodical visits to the dentist and oral hygienist are very important as they play a key role in oral hygiene.
Are there foods I cannot eat?
Generally, hard and sticky foods must be avoided as they damage appliances and affect teeth movement and might lead to increased treatment time.
- Toffees should be avoided completely.
- Hard vegetables (such as carrots) should not be eaten raw
- Corn can be eaten, provided that it is cut from the cob before consumption.
- Lightly toasted bread can be eaten.
- When eating popcorn, one must be very attentive not to bite on un-popped kernels.
- Cool drink bottle caps (such as Energade) should not be opened with the teeth.
- Biltong can be eaten, provided that it is cut into small manageable bite-sized pieces.
- Only sugar free gum may be chewed.
When is it too late for adults?
It is never too late.
Age is not a predisposing factor in orthodontic treatment, as healthy teeth can be moved successfully, regardless of the patient’s age.
I have crowns and missing teeth. Can I wear braces?
Yes. In many cases, orthodontic treatment is used in correlation with other dental procedures to facilitate treatments involving crowns and implants.
Why visit an orthodontic SPECIALIST?
After obtaining a BChD (Dental) degree, a dentist needs to successfully complete a further 3-4 years of study in the field of orthodontics in order to become an orthodontist. During this time the aspiring orthodontist will learn the skills required to guide facial development (dentofacial orthopaedics) and manage tooth movement (orthodontics). This process thus entails 10 or more years of education and training after high school and therefore an orthodontic specialist is best equipped to recognise and treat problems in the field of orthodontics.
Once successfully completing orthodontic training, the orthodontist will limits his/her work to orthodontics ONLY; dedicating themselves to improving aesthetics and promoting functional ability (e.g. speech). This is achieved by the use of various orthodontic appliances, including braces, aligner trays and retainers to move teeth and keep them in position; the orthodontist’s advanced training and experience places them in the most favourable position to identify the best kind of appliances to meet the unique needs and treatment goals of every patient.
When to see an orthodontist.
An orthodontic consultation is recommended in:
- Early/late loss of baby teeth
- The presence of bad oral habits (e.g. thumb sucking)
- Presence of biting or chewing difficulties
- The inability to close lips
- Mouth breathing
- The presence of shifting jaws that make sounds, protrude (move forwards) or are recessive
- The events of speech difficulties
- The event that the cheek or roof of mouth is being bitten continuously
- The presence of facial imbalance/asymmetry
- The presence of teeth grinding/clenching
- The presence of a cross-bite (in the front or back teeth)
- The event of spacing, misplaced, crowded or blocked-out teeth
- The presence of an open bite (when the teeth do not meet) or teeth that meet abnormally
- The presence of a deep bite or protruding teeth
Why have orthodontic treatment?
In short, orthodontic treatment is an excellent investment towards one’s dental, physical and emotional health and well being as it forms part of a comprehensive dental care plan, the results of which may last a lifetime.
Orthodontic treatment goals include:
- A fabulous smile,
- facial harmony,
- and a proper bite (straight teeth that correlate with opposing teeth properly).
How is a dentist different from an orthodontist?
This is a question commonly posed by prospective patients, and we understand that this may be unclear to people who aren’t members of the dental community.
Both dentists and orthodontists are oral health care providers. What differentiates orthodontists from dentists is that orthodontists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of bite problems, known as malocclusions. Malocclusions can be caused by a number of factors such as missing teeth, crowded teeth, or even misalignment of the jaw itself. An orthodontist straightens a patient’s teeth and bite by employing corrective appliances or devices such as braces, wires, bands, or retainers. To do this effectively, an orthodontist must have advanced knowledge of the many neuromuscular and skeletal issues that may contribute to malocclusion. Every orthodontist is able to treat children as well as adults, though some orthodontists choose to specialize in juvenile or adult treatments.
The main factor that distinguishes an orthodontist from a dentist is the specialized training a dentist must undergo to become an orthodontist. All dentists and orthodontists must graduate from dental school before being certified to practice dentistry. Some people choose to pursue further education so that they can gain the in-depth knowledge and skill set that qualifies them to specialize in a specific area of dentistry, such as orthodontics. Orthodontic training programs are very competitive: only the brightest and most dedicated dentists are accepted, and even fewer have the dedication necessary to complete this rigorous course of study.
In simple terms: All orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists.