Plunkett Orthodontics

Orthodontic FAQ

orthodontic faq


Frequently Asked Questions about Orthodontics


What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics (also referred to as dentofacial orthopedics) is a specialised form of dentistry focusing on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial abnormalities.

Who is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a registered dental specialist who has completed an additional two to three year, full-time university degree in orthodontics, after their initial dental degree. They receive orthodontic training and experience at the most advanced level, and are registered specialists with the Dental Board of Australia. Your orthodontist is able to straighten teeth, correct mis-aligned jaw structures and improve the function of your bite and smile.

What's the best age to visit the orthodontist?

If you want to improve the look and feel of your smile, then any age can be a great age to see the orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first visit an orthodontist around the age of seven; however, orthodontic treatment is not exclusive to children and teens, with about one in every five orthodontic patients being over the age of 21. Whether you're considering treatment for yourself, or for a child, any time is a good time to visit the orthodontist.

How can I take care of my teeth, if I'm wearing braces or a retainer?

  • ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day. Remember, it takes about 4 minutes to do a good job brushing teeth clean with braces on.
  • Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask your orthodontist or family dentist if you need a fluoride rinse. This will help prevent cavities!
  • If you take out your retainer to eat, make sure you brush your teeth and floss. Remember to keep it safe in it's container, so that it does not get lost or broken.
  • Keep your retainer clean by brushing it with a toothbrush and water. You may also soak it in denture cleaners as instructed by your orthodontist, to keep it fresh. Do not put your retainer in boiling water, harsh chemicals, or in the dishwasher!
  • During your treatment, try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar (sugar increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth, causing more plaque and possibly cavities).
  • Avoid sticky and chewy foods (caramels, chewing gum, minties etc.) hard foods (hard lollies, nuts, ice cubes) or any foods that could possibly get stuck in your braces (corn on the cob, bagels, ribs, etc.).
  • Be sure to schedule your routine check-ups with your family dentist. It is recommended that you continue to visit the dentist every six months, during orthodontic treatment.

What are braces?

Braces are used by your orthodontist to help you improve the look and feel of your smile and to straighten your teeth. There are several different types of braces to choose from, including:

  • Clear braces
  • Ceramic braces
  • Gold braces
  • Lingual braces
  • Self-ligating braces
  • Invisible braces
  • Traditional metal braces

If I get braces, how long do I have to wear them?

The amount of time spent in braces varies, depending on the severity of the problem and on your individual patient response. Treatment times can take anywhere between six and 36 months, but most typical treatments take about 20 - 24 months. Your co-operation with treatment is the single most important factor in reducing the time spent in braces. 

Do braces hurt?

Today, braces are simple and surprisingly easy to fit.  Braces do not often hurt, although you may feel some discomfort for the first few days as your teeth, gums and mouth get used to them. You soon get used to wearing braces and before long will hardly notice them. We will provide all the advice needed, when your braces are fitted.

Do I need to brush my teeth more often, when I have braces?

Yes!  With braces, you should brush your teeth and gums at least three times a day, to keep your teeth, gums and mouth healthy and clean. Brushing regularly will help remove any food  caught around the braces. You should also floss daily to clean between your teeth and braces, where your brush cannot reach. Your orthodontist will show you how to properly brush and floss, once your braces are placed.

If I have braces, do I still need dental checkups every six months?

Yes!  In fact, it's even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit their dentist regularly. With braces, food may be caught in places that your toothbrush can't reach. This causes bacteria to build up and can lead to cavities, gingivitis and gum disease. Your dentist will work closely with your orthodontist, to make sure that your teeth stay clean and healthy, while wearing braces.

Will my braces interfere with school activities like sports, playing an instrument, or singing?

Not a problem!  Playing an instrument, or contact sports may require some adjustment when you first get your braces, but wearing braces will not stop you from participating in any of your school activities. If you play a contact sport, it is recommended that you wear a mouthguard to protect your braces or appliance.

How do I schedule my next appointment?

Simply call our practice!  Our front desk staff will be happy to help schedule your next appointment at your convenience. If you are a new patient, or have been referred to our practice, please let us know and we will provide you with all of the information you need.

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