Orthodontics is primarily the pratice of straightening crooked and overcrowded teeth and/or aligning the jaws and the bite of upper to lower teeth. The objective of orthodontic treatment is thus twofold - firstly, to improve the appearance of the teeth and hence the smile (which greatly benefits one's self confidence) and secondly, to improve the bite, which may help minimize the risks of tooth wear and functional and jaw joint problems. Crooked and overcrowded teeth are also more difficult to keep clean and free of tooth decay. Orthodontic treatment for patients with some missing teeth is also possible.
There is no age limit for having orthodontic treatment and there is a variety of ways available to treat specific orthodonitc problems. These range from simple treatments (e.g. retainers) to more complex treatments often involving fixed appliances (e.g. braces). The fees for the treatments thus depend upon the complexity of the problem, which is often also related to the duration of the treatment. Payment plans are available in easy 12, 18, or 24 monthly installments.
Removable appliances or "retainers" are usually used at a younger age, often either to effect simple (but limited) tooth movement or to modify jaw growth, thus addressing correction of the bite and faulty jaw relationships ("functional appliances"). Fixed Appliances or "braces" consist of bands and brackets, which are adhered to the teeth, and archwires, which actually move the teeth. We use state of the art and highest quality miniaturised stainless steel braces, less conspicuous Tooth Colored braces, and Invisible or lingual braces (glued to the inside surfaces of the teeth, so they are not visible).
In order to correct the bite and faulty jaw positions (i.e. Dentofacial Orthopaedics), we can use advanced Jaw Orthopaedic appliances including Functional Appliances or Headgear (which is worn by growing patients after school and to bed). Headgear is also used to make space for crowded teeth, but in some patients with severe overcrowding, removal of certain teeth is required (we do our best to see if there is any way we can avoid extraction of teeth). Most patients wearing braces also get to wear elastics. Where appropriate, jaw surgery is considered for jaw correction in some non-growing adult patients with severe bite problems
As you can appreciate, the patient's cooperation in wearing braces, elastics, retainers, or headgear, is VERY important if we're to achieve a good outcome in the shortest possible time.
We use the newest metal technology available, developed to meet the needs of space travel by NASA. Orthodontic archwires (which actually move the teeth), made from copper, nickel and titanium and which incorporate this technology, are actually activated with changes in temperature. These special properties allow for greater patient comfort, faster tooth movement, and fewer treatment visits to plan in your busy schedule.
Orthodontics is the oldest of all dental Specialities, but it has come a long way of late. The braces are smaller and less conspicuous (and even "invisible"). The wires are gentler and more effective, making treatment faster and less uncomfortable, and better still, newer treatment methods are continually being devised to make it easier for all.
New Patient Consultation:
Most patients visiting an orthodontist for the first time are unsure as to what happens at this consultation. In general terms, orthodontic treatment can be divided into three stages :
Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
Active Orthodontic Treatment
At the very first visit, we spend some time examining the patient, both from a facial aspect as well as their teeth and bite, in order to diagnose the problem. We will then explain this to you, and give you an idea of what orthodontic treatment may be involved to correct the problem (and if this is the right time for treatment), its duration and possible cost.
If you're not ready for treatment yet, we'll ask to see you again several months later to monitor changes and determine when you're ready for treatment (and if treatment is really necessary). However, if you are ready for treatment, we will make some moulds (impressions) of your teeth and take photographs of your face and teeth along with X-rays for measurements and analysis. This will enable us to work out an exact individualised treatment for you. This concludes the diagnosis and treatment planning phase of your treatment. After this we see you again for a treatment discussion appointment.
At this appointment, we will explain to you in detail, the exact nature of the problem, and what ACTIVE ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT is advisable. Most importantly, we will discuss with you the things you need to do during treatment if you want your treatment to be quick and successful. We reckon that this Treatment Discussion Appointment is your most important appointment. The precise fees for the treatment will also be quoted to you in writing then, and an Informed Consent form given to you. There is no charge for the Treatment Discussion appointment, and we encourage questions.
The final phase of Orthodontic Treatment is RETENTION, where we use removable retainers (usually) to hold the correction achieved, after the braces are removed. During this time, we will also check on your wisdom teeth.
What is the best age for your children to have their first orthodontic consultation? American Association of Orthodontists suggests that every child should have an orthodontic screening by age 7. There are some patients who would benefit from being seen at a young age, so that "early" interceptive treatment can be used to alleviate or correct developing problems. For example, if we see a patient who has a thumb-sucking habit, when their permanent front teeth begin to erupt (approximately 6 years old), then we can often reverse the orthodontic problem with timely orthodontic intervention. Patients with overcrowding can often be helped if seen at a young age, so that the need for later extraction of permanent teeth may be avoided. Since using a child's facial growth to help correct bite problems is often needed, it's important to see your child when they are young. Apart from thumb-sucking or "underbite" patients (whom we like to see at about 6 years of age), we usually prefer to see our patients for their first consultation at approximately 8 or 9 years of age, in case they would benefit from "early" interceptive orthodontic treatment. However, Active comprehensive orthodontic treatment (often involving braces), is often best carried out just BEFORE the patient's pubertal growth spurt (girls about 11-12 years of age, boys about 12-13 years of age) -- hopefully the patient has by then erupted their permanent teeth.