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FAQ

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.

What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics, by definition, is the branch of dentistry dealing with the diagnosis, prevention and correction of problems with the alignment of the teeth and jaws (known as malocclusion or ‘bad bite’).

At Scope Orthodontics, we believe in staying up to date with the very latest in orthodontic techniques to ensure we are offering the most up to date and appropriate forms of treatment for our patients with the best possible results.

There are many reasons why people seek orthodontic treatment. It may be a case of your self confidence suffering due to a crooked smile. Poor jaw alignment may mean that you are chipping and grinding your teeth excessively. Protruding front teeth may mean you are at high risk of damaging them during sports activities, this is especially the case in young children. Straight teeth also tend to be easier to keep clean, which may mean the risks of dental decay or gum disease are reduced.

An orthodontist is a dentist who specialises in the area of orthodontics. It is the only area of dentistry that they do, and so they do it well. It is similar to the way in which a medical doctor may choose to specialise in a specific area, for example cardiology or obstetrics.

To become specialised in the field of orthodontics in Australia, you first must complete a Bachelor degree in dentistry, comprising 5 or more years full time university study. This is followed by a minimum of 2 years practical dental experience as a general dentist before applying to complete a postgraduate degree in Orthodontics. This involves another 3 years of full time study where only orthodontics is learnt.

This level of training and experience is invaluable in achieving amazing results for their patients and confidently choosing the right method of treatment for different types of malocclusions.

As with all medical and dental specialists in Australia, an orthodontist must be registered as a specialist in Orthodontics by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

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

Most orthodontists agree that about the age of 7 years is a good time to have an initial orthodontic consultation. This is because by this age the adult first molar teeth have usually erupted into the mouth, and can be used as a reference point to evaluate the alignment of the jaws. Of course, this does not mean that all children will be ready commence treatment at this young age, however some problems are best dealt with early. Most orthodontic treatment is commenced when the last of the baby (‘deciduous’) teeth have fallen out, typically around 11-12 years of age.

If you are concerned about your child’s teeth or even your own, contact the team at Scope Orthodontics today to book a consultation.

No, you do not need a referral to seek orthodontic care; you can contact us directly to book your consultation appointment today.

With the advancement in orthodontics over the past few years, extractions have become much less common than previously. That being said, there are still cases where extractions will be necessary. This is usually due to overcrowding or positioning problems with the jaw bone, but this works on case-by-case basis.

Your case will be assessed on an individual basis and the best course of treatment for you recommended. Our goal is to provide you with a dazzling smile which will last a lifetime.

Many different types of malocclusion may be corrected by wearing braces or plates. However, in some cases the upper and lower jaws are different sizes or shapes, or do not line up properly. In these cases, orthodontic treatment done in conjunction with orthognathic surgery may be recommended to ensure the optimum result is achieved.

The jaw surgery is carried out by an experienced oral surgeon in a hospital environment and can produce a dramatic enhancement to the patient’s appearance and occlusion.

Jaw surgery is now a very common part of orthodontic treatment.

If you think you are a patient that needs orthodontic surgery, call Scope Orthodontics to discuss your options.

Caring For Your Braces 

Scope Orthodontics has a highly trained team to support and care for you during your journey with braces. Refer to the information below, to assist you during your early days  with braces and throughout the course of your treatment.

While braces are on your teeth it is critical that they are kept extremely clean. Your brackets are made of stainless steel or ceramic and will not damage your teeth.

However, there are many more places for bacteria and plaque to accumulate on the braces. It is essential that you brush your teeth at least two to three times a day and floss each day. Failing to do so can result in gum disease, bad breath or decalcification of the enamel and tooth decay.

It is very important to continue to see your general dentist every six months while your braces are on your teeth. This will help to ensure that your teeth and gums remain in the best condition possible during your treatment. Some adult patients may benefit from seeing their dentist even more frequently than this, or perhaps to see a periodontist who is a specialist in the area of gum disease.

It is normal to feel some minor discomfort for the first few days after your braces are initially placed. Modern brackets and wires mean that the forces exerted on the teeth to move them is lighter than they have ever been before, but it will still take some time for you to adjust. Your teeth will feel tender to bite on for a few days, and a soft diet is recommended. Pasta, eggs and fish are great foods to eat during this time. The brackets and wires may rub the inside of your lips and cheeks and this may also be uncomfortable. We will provide you with special orthodontic wax to help with this, and we also find that doing warm salty mouthrinses for a few days also really helps.

Your braces are glued to your teeth with a special type of adhesive. At the end of your treatment, we want to be able to remove your braces without damaging the enamel of the teeth. Because of this, the adhesive is of a medium strength. This means that if you eat the wrong foods it may be possible to break the brackets off your teeth. Breakages are something definitely best to be avoided. They will add time and possibly cost to your treatment. To prevent breakages, you will need to avoid hard, sticky or chewy foods. Some foods such as apples or carrots are best cut up before eating. We will advise you in more detail on what types of foods to avoid on the day that your braces are placed.

Broken brackets are not usually an emergency, but please contact us as soon as possible if this happens. A loose bracket will be able to move freely on the archwire, and will usually be quite obvious. If the bracket is at the very back of the mouth, it may be able to slide off the end of the archwire. Remove the bracket if possible, to avoid swallowing it, and call the practice on the next business day to schedule a repair.

Your orthodontic wires will be very thin and flexible for the first 6-9 months of your braces treatment. Occasionally the wires may move from one side to the other and become long on one side. These wires can then irritate the lips and cheeks. You may be able to reposition the wire with the eraser on the end of a pencil. Alternatively, use a piece of orthodontic wax over the long wire until you can schedule a visit to come and see us to have the wire repositioned.

Please do not try to cut the archwire yourself, as you may end up swallowing or inhaling the piece that is cut off.

Orthodontic bands are metal rings that are sometimes cemented over the molar (back) teeth. Bands may be used to anchor either your braces, or some types of cemented plates. If you eat hard, chewy or sticky foods then you may break the glue that affixes the band to the tooth, and it will become loose. Please contact us to have the band recemented.

Separators are small elastic bands that are placed between the back teeth for a week to enable orthodontic bands to be placed. Separators can sometimes work loose prior to your scheduled visit. If this happens, please contact us to determine if and when the separator needs to be replaced.

Leaving your orthodontic plate or retainer at a restaurant, or having it eaten by your dog are very common occurrences! Please be careful with your appliances. However, should you lose your plate or retainer contact us so that we can schedule a time to have the appliance remade where appropriate.

One of the most important aspects of your orthodontic treatment is your co-operation. Our Orthodontic Team will work with you from the beginning to the end of your treatment program to ensure that the best possible result is achieved.

YOUR ROLE

  • Keep your regular scheduled appointments. Missing appointments will increase treatment time.
  • Brush your teeth after every meal to keep your teeth and appliances clean.
  • Do not play with your appliances as this may loosen the wires and break attachments. Loose wires can irritate the inside of your mouth and lips.
  • Avoid eating hard and chewy foods to prevent your appliances from breaking, bending or coming loose.
  • Co-operate by wearing your elastic bands as instructed by your orthodontist.

REMEMBER! We need to work together to get the best possible result for you.


 

Your braces are precise appliances designed for specific purposes and require particular care.

If you need to identify a concern with your braces, for example a breakage, please refer to the image below so you can accurately describe the problem when you call Scope Orthodontics.

Knowing Your Braces
1. Band A ring of metal that is glued onto the tooth.
2. Bracket A metal or ceramic attachment bonded to the tooth or welded to a band.
3. Archwire A length of removable wire that fits into the bracket slots around the dental arch.
4. Hooks These are used to attach elastics.

 
  1. Brush Braces Step
    An interproximal brush should be used to clean between the braces and under the archwires.
  2. Brush Braces
    Use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft toothbrush. Spend at least 10 seconds cleaning each tooth.
    Clean the gum line. Start brushing where the tooth meets the gum surface. With the bristles angled towards the gumline use a circular motion and work your way around the mouth from one side to the other.
    Healthy gums do not bleed. If you notice any bleeding concentrate on cleaning and flossing in that area.
  3. Clean Braces
    Clean your braces. Tilt the bristles upwards and then downwards so they can get into the area under the wire and between the braces. In a circular motion, be sure to brush each bracket on every tooth.
  4. Brushing With Braces
    Brush the chewing surfaces and the inside surfaces of all your teeth.

Flossing is the best method to prevent gum disease and decay between the teeth. Plaque is the major cause of gum disease and decay and it must be removed daily. Only floss can reach between the teeth to remove plaque. Flossing during orthodontic treatment is time consuming, but with practice it will become an easy routine.

Waxed floss or tape should be used. Unwaxed floss may shred on the metal edges of the bands and brackets. Use a piece about 45cm long.

  • Flossing With Braces
    Start by threading the floss under the archwire before it is passed between the teeth.
  • Flossing With Braces
    Ease the floss between your teeth with steady pressure. Do not force the floss hard into your gums. Rub the floss up and down against the tooth surface.
  • A pharmacy can provide a floss threading device to help pass the floss under the archwire, if required.

Each time you visit Scope Orthodontics we will evaluate your brushing and flossing. We will score your performance from 5 stars down to 1 star, so that you know how effective you are with your cleaning. To ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy throughout your treatment you will need to consistently score 4 or 5 stars.

Evaluation Orthodontics Fantastic! Couldn’t be better Teeth and gums in top condition.
Evaluation Orthodontics Very good Just missing a couple of tricky areas.
Evaluation Orthodontics Average You’re only cleaning the easy areas and plaque is building up.
Evaluation Orthodontics Definitely not good enough Much more effort required. The gums are now puffy and red. Your teeth are at risk of staining and decay.
Evaluation Orthodontics Disaster area You are developing gum disease, dental decay and staining on your teeth which will be with you for life – a critical time to get better with your cleaning – fast!

 
  • Brush your teeth and braces for 5 minutes at least 3 times a day immediately after eating – after breakfast, after lunch or after school and definitely after dinner.
  • If you cannot brush immediately after eating you need to thoroughly swish your mouth with water and then clean your teeth and braces as soon as you can.
  • After your evening meal floss carefully and then brush your teeth.
  • It is important to use fluoride toothpaste, as fluoride will help prevent staining and damage to your teeth.

The key to healthy teeth and gums during your orthodontic treatment is the complete removal of all plaque every day.

Plaque is the sticky colourless film of bacteria that is constantly forming on your teeth. It is the main cause of gum disease and dental decay.

Preventing damage to your teeth and gums. Cleaning your teeth and gums is very important to avoid the following damage:

Poor Oral Hygiene
  1. Enamel decalcification - permanent white marks on teeth.
  2. Swollen, puffy gums.
  3. Bleeding gums.
  4. Tooth decay.

WARNING – PLEASE DO NOT USE DISCLOSING SOLUTION ON CERAMIC BRACES.

Disclosing solution is a pink dye which stains food and plaque on your teeth. Use it at least once a week after flossing and brushing to see the areas you have missed.

Using Disclosing Tablets
  • Swish the dye solution around your teeth and gums.
  • Rinse your mouth with water to remove the excess dye. The pink stains around your braces show where the plaque has been left.
  • Now brush and floss your teeth again. When all the pink areas are gone your mouth will be plaque free.

PLEASE NOTE – THE DISCLOSING SOLUTON IS A DYE AND MAY PERMANENTLY STAIN FABRIC.


 

Your teeth will move best when all your body systems are healthy. A balanced diet is important, so choose foods from all food groups. In the first few days and after adjustments your teeth may be tender to pressure, so it’s best to eat softer foods.

Don’t eat hard, chewy food or place hard objects in your mouth. They loosen, break and bend wires, brackets and bands. You must avoid:

  • Hard crusts from bread and pizza.
  • Tough meat or chewing meat off the bone (chicken and chops).
  • Carrots – unless cooked or grated.
  • Raw celery.
  • Apples – must be cut up first.
  • Hard biscuits.
  • Sucking and chewing ice blocks.
  • Corn chips, popcorn, nuts.
  • Toasted muesli or hard cereals.
  • Chewing on pens, bottle tops, fingernails.

Don’t eat hard, sticky or sweet foods. They cause damage to the teeth and gums as well as the braces. For example:

  • Lollies – hard and soft.
  • Chocolates.
  • Chewing gum, bubble gum.
  • Muesli or fruit bars.

REMEMBER! MINIMISE SUGAR INTAKE

Sugar is dangerous to your teeth. Don’t forget the hidden sugar and acids in dried fruit, sports drinks, soft drinks, cordials, sugared cereal, honey and jam. Too much sugar causes acid attack which leads to staining, enamel damage and decay of your teeth.

REMEMBER! When you are thirsty, tap water is best. It contains fluoride and it also substitutes for sugary drinks.


 

In almost all cases damage to your braces is caused by eating hard or brittle foods or chewing on pens or other hard objects.

DAMAGE TO YOUR BRACES CAN EFFECT YOU IN SEVERAL WAYS

  • It will be painful if a wire catches on your cheek or lip.
  • It will be inconvenient for you. An appointment will be taken up repairing damage rather than progressing with your treatment. This means your braces will be on for a longer time.
  • Damaged orthodontic appliances often cannot be repaired, and are costly to replace. Please understand that frequent damage may result in additional cost to you.

 

We recommend you wear a mouthguard if you are playing contact sports or any other activity where your teeth are at risk of trauma.

We can use specialist orthodontic technicians to make a personalised mouthguard which will provide you with significant protection from trauma.

You may choose to use a non-personalised mouthguard from a pharmacy. This will not provide the same level of protection as a personalised mouthguard, but does have the advantage of being able to be remoulded a few times as the teeth move. We are happy to mould your mouthguard for you, if you are not confident to do it yourself.

  • Sore and tender gums and teeth.
    Remember some soreness is normal, especially after an adjustment. Use warm salty mouth rinses and eat a soft diet to relieve discomfort. If necessary, use the same pain reliever as you would for a headache.
  • Irritated cheeks, lips and tongue.
    Try to see what is causing the problem. If a wire has moved out of place try to move it back into place by using a cotton wool bud or the end of a match stick. If that does not work, cover the area with wax or cotton wool and contact us for an appointment.
  • Broken Archwire.
    Stop wearing any elastics and contact us. Remove any loose wire and cover the irritating end with wax or cotton wool.
  • Broken Bracket.
    This is not an emergency, however please advise Scope Orthodontics as it may need to be attended to before your next appointment.
  • Loose band on a back tooth.
    It is important for us to re-cement any loose bands. Please call Scope Orthodontics for an appointment as soon as possible.
For any of the above issues, please contact us

 

How much will it cost?


This depends on the complexity of the case, and the treatment method chosen to correct the problem. You will receive an exact cost for your treatment once your initial consultation and treatment plan is complete. Our fees include placement of your appliances, all of your adjustment visits for the length of your treatment, any x-rays which we take during the course of your treatment, removal of any appliances, your first set of orthodontic retainers if required and the first 12 months of supervision following the removal of any appliances. We will also supply a mouth guard, if you need one.

This ensures there are no hidden expenses for you to worry about during the course of treatment.

Easy payment plans

At Scope Orthodontics we offer flexible monthly interest-free payment plans via secure monthly direct debit payments. This enables you to pay off the treatment as you go rather than in one lump sum payment.