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Learn more about some of the most frequently asked questions that relate to dental and oral hygiene as well as orthodontic work at Scope Orthodontics. 

The FAQ below will provide you an overview of what is orthodontics and why you may need them, as well provide you an overview of how to maintain your teeth during and post orthodontic treatment. 

Orthodontics is a specialist area of dentistry concerned with improving the alignment of the teeth and jaws, and the way that the teeth meet together. When your teeth meet incorrectly, it is known as a ‘malocclusion’ or ‘bad bite’. Orthodontists spend most of their time treating the many different types of malocclusion.

There are many reasons people seek orthodontic care. A dazzling smile can significantly enhance your self esteem and improve your confidence. Straight teeth are also easier to keep clean, and so levels of gum disease and tooth decay may be reduced. An even bite will make chewing your food easier and more comfortable, and may possibly reduce the risks of some jaw joint problems. Finally, well aligned teeth are at a lower risk of dental trauma than, for example, extremely protrusive teeth. This is especially important in young patients who are more prone to damaging their teeth due to their active lifestyles.

Orthodontists and dentists both help patients improve their oral health, but in different ways. All orthodontists are dentists by training, and have worked as dentists for several years. To become an orthodontist however, you need to return to University for a further three years of full time specialist training solely in the field of orthodontics. This training involves comprehensively treating many patients with all sorts of orthodontic problems. It also includes a significant amount of time learning about the very complex area of the growth and development of the human face, jaws and teeth. It also includes developing an understanding of the complex mechanics involved in moving teeth with orthodontic appliances.

Orthodontists only undertake orthodontic care. It’s all we do, and we do it well. We work in close co-operation with your general dentist, and it’s important to continue to see them during your orthodontic treatment. Your general dentist will not only monitor for any dental decay, but also for gum inflammation or bone loss around your teeth. They can also undertake any fillings, extractions or tooth build ups that may be needed, and keep an eye on the general health of your mouth.

No, you do not need a referral to seek orthodontic care at an orthodontist. You can contact us directly to book your consultation appointment.

We highly recommend regular dental check ups every 6 months with your general dentist to ensure your dental health is excellent. Orthodontics cannot be commenced in the presence of tooth decay, gum disease, or any infections, and so regular dental visits will ensure that your treatment can commence as soon as you are ready.

If you have been thinking about orthodontic treatment for yourself or someone else, you may be wondering when is the right time to see an orthodontist?

Generally, in young children the time to seek specialised advice is when the permanent front teeth and the first front molars have come through. This is usually around the age of 7 years, and widely regarded as the best time to have an initial consultation.

While some problems may be treated successfully at this young age, some may be best treated once all permanent teeth have all erupted. This is commonly about 11 - 12 years of age. If you are concerned about your own teeth or your child’s teeth, please give our practice a call and book in for an initial consultation.

This depends on your circumstances and the method of treatment that you are undertaking. Early treatment, where indicated, may start at around age 7-8 years. Comprehensive treatment incorporating braces usually does not start until all of the baby teeth have fallen out. For most children this is at around 11-12 years of age.

Modern advances in orthodontics has meant that extraction of adult teeth is required far less frequently. In some cases extraction of adult teeth is still necessary to produce the best orthodontic outcome, commonly in cases of severe dental crowding or protrusion. Failure to extract teeth where it is indicated may result in teeth which are too protrusive, or not housed fully within the supporting bone. This may have significant consequences on the long term appearance and health of the teeth.

Braces are attached with specialised dental glue to the surface of the teeth. It is non-invasive, with no needles or drilling involved. Putting your braces on does not hurt, however your teeth may be a little tender for a few days afterwards as they start to move into their new positions.

This is dependant on the complexity of the case, and the treatment method undertaken. Minor misalignments may be corrected in as little as 6-9 months, while particularly severe or difficult case may take 3 years or more. Most comprehensive cases are usually completed in 18-24 months.

Retainers are used following comprehensive orthodontic treatment to hold the teeth in their new positions. Failure to follow your retainer wear instructions may result in your teeth moving out of alignment. There are various types of retainers used. The type prescribed for each patient will be determined by factors such as the type and severity of the initial malocclusion. Retainers can be either removable or fixed to the teeth.

Teeth can move at any point in your life, which is why you can still have treatment as an adult. This however means that in order to maintain your perfect smile once your treatment is completed, your removable retainer must be worn every night for the first few years following treatment, and ideally at least a few nights a week indefinitely.

Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential to ensure the success of your orthodontic treatment. Our iSmile Rewards Program aims to encourage you to brush and floss regularly to ensure your teeth and gums stay as healthy as possible. Each time our patients who are undergoing treatment with plates or braces come to see us for their adjustment visits, we will score your oral hygiene with a mark out of five. If you get a score of between 3 and 5, then we will reward you with tickets to go in our iSmile barrel, located near the front door of the practice.

Every month we draw a winner who receives a $50 gift card, which can be used anywhere an EFTPOS card is accepted. The better you brush, the more chances you have to win. At the end of each year, we place all of the iSmile tickets for the whole year into a big bag, and draw out our annual Grand Prize winner. Last year we gave away an iPad Mini to one lucky patient. We will announce what this year’s Grand Prize will be later in the year.

Yes you can. There are no restrictions to playing sport or instruments while in braces. Some musicians may take longer to adapt to playing their instruments than others, but usually within a few weeks most are fine.

As a general guide, if you needed a mouthguard for sport before you had braces, you need one with braces. While your teeth are moving, a mouthguard will not fit for too long, so we recommend that a ‘boil and bite’ type mouthguard be used while you have braces on your teeth. These may be remoulded a few times as the teeth move, but will need to be replaced in time. We are happy to supply you with your first mouthguard while you are wearing braces, but you will need to purchase any subsequent mouthguards yourself. We find the ‘Elastoplast’ brand, in adult size, work well. Our clinical staff will mould your mouthguard for you, if you are not confident to do it yourself.

Yes. It is very important to continue to see your family or school dentist every six months while you are receiving orthodontic treatment. Some adults may need to be seen more frequently. Some adults may also need to see a periodontist to monitor the health of their gums and bone levels. Routine dental examinations will help ensure that your teeth and gums remain in the best of health during your orthodontic treatment.

Yes, you need to avoid hard, chewy or sticky foods during your orthodontic treatment, as these may damage or break the appliances. This may cause delays in your treatment and will mean that your braces will need to stay on for longer.

We will explain in more detail which foods are best avoided the day your braces are put on.

No. Braces are made of stainless steel or ceramic, both of which will not damage the teeth. Poor oral hygiene will lead to an accumulation of plaque on the teeth, which may cause tooth decay, gum disease or enamel decalcifications (white marks) on the teeth. Excellent oral hygiene during your orthodontic treatment will reduce the risk of these undesirable consequences.

Below we have outlined some care instructions for you. In an emergency, you should attend your general dentist, or an emergency dental service provider if required.

Please see 'Caring For Your Braces' to know more.

This is not usually done, but may be possible in some circumstances. As well as aligning your teeth, one of the main aims of modern orthodontics is to ensure that your occlusion (or ‘bite’) is comfortable and even. To do this, we usually require braces to be attached to both the upper and lower teeth. Failure to produce an acceptable occlusion may predispose the patient to uneven tooth wear, and jaw joint (‘TMD’) issues in the long term.

Current evidence suggests that wisdom teeth do NOT cause crowding of the front (‘incisor’) teeth over time. This crowding seems to be more likely a consequence of the natural ageing of the jaws over time. Wisdom teeth may still need to be removed however, commonly because they are either impacted (tipped at an angle) or there is no room in the bone for them to fit into. If indicated we can refer you to an oral surgeon for assessment and removal as needed.