Nearly all orthodontic problems are evident by the age of 7-9 years.
Early treatment is effective and desirable in certain situations.
Most orthodontic problems are best treated with a conventional course of orthodontic treatment (involving braces) as soon as the last baby tooth has been shed. This usually occurs between the ages of 11-14 years.
However, orthodontic treatment can be carried out any time thereafter.
The stages involved in a typical course of orthodontic treatment are outlined below:
- The Consultation
- Treatment Planning
- Cleaning and Care of Braces
- How Long?
- Rubber Bands and Headgear
- Dental Check-Ups
The consultation visit serves to introduce the orthodontist to the patient and to his or her parents. During this visit the patient is examined and a tentative treatment plan is proposed.
A guide to the type of treatment available, when this treatment should commence, and the approximate cost and duration of this treatment is given.
If treatment is to proceed, an appointment is made to collect full records which are used to help finalise the treatment plan.
A firm treatment plan (including whether the extraction of teeth will be necessary) is established after records have been collected and evaluated.
The taking of impressions from which plaster study models of the teeth are constructed.
The taking of photographs of the teeth and of the face.
The analysis of x-rays which reveal the shape and position of the teeth and jaws.
A third visit is arranged to discuss the final treatment plan. Arrangements are made to commence treatment or, if it is too early, to review the patient periodically until it is an appropriate time to commence treatment.
If the extraction of teeth is necessary, these extractions are performed by the referring dentist. The cost of extractions is not included in the orthodontic fee.
The correction of most orthodontic problems requires braces. Braces are made of a silver metal and are attached to individual teeth. Clear braces are also available.
Braces remain on the teeth for the entire duration of treatment.
The braces are tied to an archwire using tiny rubber bands called modules. Modules are usually grey, but a wide range of coloured modules is available.
The aligning archwires are elastic and, as they return to their ideal form, they straighten the teeth.
Cleaning and Care of Braces
The teeth are more difficult to clean when braces are fitted. Therefore, additional time and care must be spent on tooth-brushing to maintain a clean and healthy mouth. Oral hygiene will be monitored throughout treatment. Patients are requested to clean their teeth meticulously before each visit.
The braces are delicate and they will not tolerate stress of an abnormal nature. Hard and sticky foods can bend the wires and loosen the braces thus preventing them from working properly. Sticky or hard sweets and the chewing of chop or chicken bones are not permitted during orthodontic treatment.
If the braces are not damaged, and if good oral hygiene is maintained, then treatment will not be prolonged and no damage to the teeth or gums will occur.
To be successful, orthodontic treatment requires co-operation and time. Orthodontic treatment usually takes 18-24 months. Some cases may be finished earlier and others may take two years or more to complete.
Fitting the braces normally involves two visits, each up to an hour long (one for the top teeth and one for the bottom). Patients attend every 4-6 weeks thereafter for adjustments (ie. wire changes). These appointments are approximately 5 to 15 minutes in duration.
No guarantee can be given that appointments will be scheduled at the most convenient time for you. Priority is given to Year 12 students for the popular after school time slots.
Missing an appointment or arriving late for an appointment usually leads to longer total treatment times.
Rubber Bands and Headgear
During the course of treatment it is often necessary for the patient to wear such items as rubber bands and/or headgear. These items play an important role in the overall treatment and it is important that patients co-operate by wearing them according to instructions.
If these instructions are not followed, treatment will be unduly prolonged and the result may be inferior.
The patient should continue to attend his or her dentist for regular check-ups during the course of orthodontic treatment.
At the completion of the active part of orthodontic treatment, the braces are removed and retaining appliances are fitted to hold the teeth steady in their new position. These appliances may take the form of removable plates or a small wire fitted behind the (lower) front teeth.
These devices play a crucial role in orthodontic treatment for, if they are not worn according to instructions, the teeth will tend to revert to their original position.
The retaining appliances are usually worn:
Every night for approximately one year
- Every other night for a further few years
Then phased down to no less than once a week indefinitely
The aligned teeth are monitored periodically on an annual basis for several years after the retainers have been provided.
The current fee for treatment involving upper and lower braces ranges from $6600-$7100.
This fee covers the entire treatment including fitting of braces, regular adjustments, removal of the braces, provision of retainers, and the retention and observation periods thereafter.
It does not cover such items as the Consultation ($90), Records ($240), or other preparatory steps prior to the fitting of braces.
This fee is usually divided into a deposit, payable when treatment commences, and instalments, payable quarterly, until the balance has been paid off. Some health insurance funds offer some rebate on orthodontic treatment. We advise you to contact your health fund directly to determine your rebate as this will vary depending on your policy and level of cover.
The fee holds good provided appointments are kept and co-operation is shown in the areas of appliance maintenance and the wearing of rubber bands, headgear, etc., and provided the payment of accounts is kept up to date.
Should treatment involve braces in only one arch, the current fee is $3500.