Frequently asked questions about orthodontics
At Dan Smethurst Orthodontist in Tauranga, we realise that orthodontic treatment can seem daunting, and we want to empower our patients to feel informed and confident when it comes to their orthodontic treatment.
That is why we have provided answers to our most commonly asked questions about orthodontics and your treatment journey. From extractions to braces care, we've tried to cover it all. Still have a question? Contact our friendly team and we'll be happy to help!
Frequently asked questions
What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the specialised branch of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of issues in the alignment of the teeth, jaws, and face. The technical term for these problems is malocclusion, which means “bad bite”.
What is an Orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a specialist dentist who is registered as a specialist in the field of orthodontics. They may restrict their practice only to orthodontics.
Orthodontists undergo a diligent and thorough 3-year Master’s Degree that involves in-depth training in all aspects of orthodontic treatment. This includes treatment planning, dealing with complex cases that involve multidisciplinary treatment with other specialists, facial deformities and cleft palate management, combined orthodontics and facial surgery, and all aspects of orthodontic treatment.
An orthodontist is registered with the Dental Council of New Zealand as a Dental Specialist. Orthodontists have their own special organisation, the New Zealand Association of Orthodontists (NZAO), which arranges courses and conferences and has very high standards in accreditation of members, and requirements for ongoing education.
Do I need orthodontic treatment?
You should seek orthodontic treatment if you believe you have issues such as crowding of teeth, gaps between teeth, extra or missing teeth, or an irregularity of the jaw, teeth, or face. It is also recommended that you see an orthodontist if you’ve acquired a problem as a result of trauma, dental disease, thumb/finger sucking, or early loss of baby or permanent teeth. Our specialist orthodontist can help diagnose and treat these problems with care and efficiency.
Is it best to start orthodontic treatment early?
In some cases, early treatment can be beneficial for you or your child’s oral health. More often than not, treatment is not carried out until all adult teeth are through (age 10-14 years). Children who are not yet ready for braces or correctional appliances can benefit from an early evaluation by having their growth and development monitored by an orthodontic specialist.
If you are an adult seeking treatment, as long as the supporting gums are healthy, the teeth can be moved with little risk of damage. We recommend booking a consultation to find out if you need treatment.
What is an extraction? Will I need one before I get braces?
An extraction is the removal of a tooth. Sometimes in complex cases, it is necessary to remove a tooth as part of your orthodontic treatment, in order to achieve the best results. However, we try and keep the need for teeth extraction to a minimum and can treat many complex cases without needing to remove any teeth.
Before making any decisions regarding an extraction, we complete a thorough examination of records and analyse the cost, risk, and benefit of any potential extractions. If you have an excessive protrusion or excessive crowding, we may need to consider the possibility of removing teeth. Your family dentist can perform any necessary extractions if required.
Do I need a referral to see an orthodontist?
Not at all. You can contact us directly for a consultation.
What are the different types of braces?
How do I take care of my braces?
Before we fit your braces, we will check that your oral hygiene is at a high level. While your braces are on, it’s up to you to brush and floss your teeth regularly to avoid decay, discolouration, and gum disease. We will provide you with a kit containing toothbrushes, interdental brushes, dental floss, and wax and will talk you through how to maintain good oral hygiene practices during treatment.
You can still do everything you did before braces, just wear a mouth guard for sports and try not to get hit in the mouth.
You can find out more about living with braces here.
Will braces hurt?
You may experience a little discomfort as your teeth begin to realign. Your teeth may start to ache as you get used to the pressure of the wires and elastic ligatures. Over-the-counter pain medication will provide relief and the discomfort is typically gone within a few days, for most patients.
What are Functional Appliances?
Functional Appliances are specially designed removable “plates” that use the forces from muscles and soft tissues in your face to move teeth. This is a different treatment from braces.
We use functional appliances to treat certain types of bites in the appropriate situation. However, they are not suitable to correct all problems. If it is necessary, we will use functional appliances as the first phase of treatment, before using braces.
How do I start my orthodontic treatment journey?
It has never been easier to take the first step to a brighter, straighter smile. Visit Dan Smethurst Orthodontist today and see how our experts can help you.