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Orthodontic Questions

WHEN SHOULD I GET MY CHILDREN CHECKED FOR ORTHODONTICS?

Timely planning can save your child’s smile later.

Unless a problem is suspected earlier, all children should have an orthodontic check at 7 years of age.

If the adult teeth look like they are coming out too crowded, it is possible to use a trainer appliance to help shape the bite earlier rather than wait until all the teeth are out. This helps to avoid future extractions.

An OPG (low radiation dose, full jaw x-ray) should be taken at this age to pick up potential orthodontic problems, and plan for intervention accordingly.

We will refer you to the radiology clinic one level down from us. If you have a Medicare card, they bulk-bill the cost of the x-ray, and there is no extra charge to you.

I’VE BEEN RECOMMENDED ORTHODONTICS FOR MY CHILD BEFORE THEY HAVE LOST ALL THEIR ADULT TEETH. WHY?

Because children go through an enormous amount of growth, some of this growth potential can be harnessed in early treatment of some orthodontic problems. In some cases, earlier treatment may be warranted. This treatment takes place during a critical stage of your child’s development. Interceptive treatment (phase I treatment) may:

  • shorten treatment time
  • make treatment easier
  • make treatment less expensive
  • reduce the likelihood of damage to the permanent teeth should your child have a fall
  • reduce wear on the permanent teeth due to a bad bite
  • reduce the likelihood of extractions for orthodontic reasons
  • reduce the likelihood of future jaw surgery
  • reduce the likelihood of a compromised result
  • make the final treatment result more stable

Later orthodontic treatment (phase II treatment) is usually undertaken when all the adult teeth have come into the mouth to ensure teeth are in their ideal positions.

In some cases, phase I treatment alone is enough to correct the orthodontic problem, and no further treatment is required.

WHAT ORTHODONTIC PROBLEMS SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN MY CHILD?

Whilst many patients will have orthodontics when they have lost all their milk teeth, there are some orthodontic problems which benefit from early treatment. Early (interceptive) treatment in these cases, helps to limit later treatment, and produces a more stable result. In some patients a later course of orthodontics may not even be necessary.

3-6 years of age:

Underbite (reverse overbite in the front teeth)

Underbite (reverse overbite in the front teeth)

Crossbite (reverse overbite in the back teeth)

6-9 years of age:

Severe crowding / poor tooth positioning – ‘Buck teeth’ (protrusive upper adult teeth)

Openbite (may be caused by a thumb or dummy sucking habit)

Extreme overbite – Underbite (reverse overbite in the front teeth)

Crossbite (reverse overbite in the back teeth) 10+ years: All other treatment

I DON’T LIKE THE LOOK OF METAL BRACES. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I CAN HAVE DONE?

Braces have been around for a long time – and they have a proven track record of straightening teeth out really well.

The great thing is braces have also been modified to be more cosmetically acceptable. They are much smaller now, and move teeth more efficiently so treatment time is considerably less than what it used to be.

‘Cosmetic’ braces

If braces are the best solution for your orthodontic problem, we can offer you tooth-coloured ceramic braces for your top front teeth. They are a nice alternative to full metal braces. We don’t put ceramic braces on bottom teeth because they wear the enamel on the top teeth when you put your teeth together.

Braces on the ‘inside’

If you just have a little crowding or overlap of your bottom front teeth, we can look at putting braces on the inside of your bottom front teeth so no one will know they are even there!

Invisalign

Invisalign makes use of clear plastic retainers (plates) to straighten teeth. Retainers are changed every two weeks, gradually moving teeth into their final positions.

They are a cosmetic alternative to braces.

However, because they do not grip teeth like braces do, they are not suitable for all bite problems.

Sometimes a short 3-6 month tidy-up period with braces is required if you or we think minor changes are still needed at the end of Invisalign treatment.

Removable plates

We’ve found some bad bites (particularly in children) can benefit from the use of removable plates. This may be an attractive alternative to braces in some patients.

IF I GET BRACES, WILL I NEED TO HAVE TEETH REMOVED?

We try to avoid taking teeth out unless it is absolutely necessary. Orthodontics has come a long way from the 1960s when you walked into the orthodontic practice and expected to walk out of the clinic with four less teeth in your head.

We are very case selective in when we would elect to remove teeth, and will only remove them if it is unavoidable.

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