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) shortly after 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
- Payment Options
- Dental Health Insurance
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 photographs of the teeth and of the face.
The analysis of x-rays which reveal the shape and position of the teeth and jaws.
- If necessary, the taking of impressions or a scan from which models of the teeth are constructed.
Thereafter, 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.
For complicated cases where multiple treatment options may be possible, a third visit may be necessary to discuss and decide on the final treatment plan.
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 typically made of a silver metal and are attached to individual teeth, but 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. These modules are available in a wide range of colours.
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 whilst other cases may take two years or more to complete.
Fitting the braces involves an appointment of 30-45 minutes and are scheduled during the middle of the day. Patients are required to attend every 4 to 8 weeks (usually 5 to 6 weeks) thereafter for adjustments, wire changes, etc. These appointments are approximately 10-15 minutes in duration and many patients will book the popular after school time slots for these shorter appointments.
No guarantee can be given that appointments will be scheduled at the most convenient time for you. 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.
Patients should continue to see their general dentist for regular check-ups during the course of orthodontic treatment.
At the completion of the 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 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.
Retaining appliances, if removable, are usually worn:
Every night for the first few years
- 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 for several years after the retainers have been provided.
The current fee for treatment involving upper and lower braces starts at $7,400 for a case of mild complexity.
The 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 ($100), Records ($250), 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 monthly, 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 $3,900. Clear braces are available for the upper six to eight front teeth at an additional cost of $200. Other treatment approaches involving clear aligners or braces fitted to the inside surfaces of the teeth attract different fees.
For a normal course of treatment, there are two payment options available for you to choose from:
- Payment of the entire fee upfront. A 3% discount is offered if you select this option.
- A payment plan where the fee is divided into a deposit of $2,800, payable when treatment commences, with the balance payable in monthly instalments over 24 months. Our payment plans are managed by DentiCare Payment Solutions, who will manage your direct debit instalments and provide you with monthly statements and a personal online portal to check payments, download statements, etc. (Please note: a 0.88% fee applies for bank account transactions and a 1.75% fee applies for MasterCard, Visa and Amex transactions).
Dental Health Insurance
Your health insurer may offer some rebate on orthodontic treatment. The relevant item numbers will be provided to you but we advise you to contact your insurer directly to determine your rebate as this will vary depending on your policy and level of cover.