Common questions about orthodontics

Want to know more about orthodontics and what to expect? You’re not the only one! Our team have compiled answers to some of the common questions we receive in the clinic at Dan Smethurst Orthodontist. 


What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry which specialises in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of problems in the alignment of teeth, jaws and face. The technical term for these problems is malocclusion, which means “bad bite”. 

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Common questions

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a specialist dentist who is registered as specialist in the field orthodontics and restricts their practice only to orthodontics. 

Orthodontists undergo a rigorous 3-year Master’s degree that involves thorough training in all aspects of orthodontic treatment, involving 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 have very high standards in accreditation of members, and requirements for ongoing education. 

Common questions

How do I know if I need orthodontic treatment?

Most people do not need orthodontic treatment. However, you should seek treatment if you have inherited problems such as crowding of teeth, gaps between teeth, extra or missing teeth or an irregularity of the jaw, teeth or face. You should also see an orthodontist of you’ve had an acquired problem as a cause 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. 

Common questions

Is it better to start orthodontic treatment early?

In some cases, early treatment can be better for you or your child’s oral health. More often than not, no treatment is carried out until all adult teeth are through (age 10-14 years). Children who are not ready for braces 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. 

Common questions

What are extractions and will I need them before I get braces?

The removal of a tooth is called an extraction. Sometimes in complex cases, it is necessary to remove teeth as part of orthodontic treatment to achieve the best results. However, we try and keep the need for teeth extraction to a minimum and treat many complex cases without taking any teeth out. 

Before making any decisions, we complete a rigorous examination of records and analyse the cost, risk and benefit of any potential extractions. If you have excessive protrusion or excessive crowding, we may need to consider the possibility of removing teeth. Your family dentist can perform any necessary extractions, if applicable. 

Common questions

Do I need a referral to see an orthodontist?

No. You can contact us directly for an appointment. 

Are there different types of braces?

There are several different types of braces to choose from for your orthodontic treatment. At Dan Smethurst Orthodontist, we offer traditional metal braces, clear braces and Invisalign

Common questions

How do I take care of my braces?

Before we will start working with a patient, oral hygiene must be up to the high level. While the 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 a kit with toothbrushes, interdental brushes, dental floss and wax. 

In order to keep your treatment progressing, we like to see most patients every 6-8 weeks. However, braces can remain active for up to 10 weeks at a time. 

You can still do everything you did without the braces, just wear a mouth guard for sports and try to not to get hit in the mouth. 

Common questions

Do braces hurt?

A little discomfort as your teeth begin to realign is normal. 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. The discomfort is typically gone by day five for most patients. 

Common questions

What are functional appliances?

Functional appliances are specially designed removable “plates” that use forces that come from muscles and soft tissues of the 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 necessary, we use functional appliances as a first phase of treatment prior to using braces. 

Ready to start your orthodontic treatment journey? Book your initial consultation at Dan Smethurst Orthodontist in Tauranga today.

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Common questions