What is an Orthodontist?

An Orthodontist is a Specialist Dentist who has a university qualification (Masters degree, or more recently a Doctorate of Clinical Dentistry) in Orthodontics of at least 3 years full time duration. It is very demanding both to gain entry and to complete. Orthodontists Specialise in diagnosing and treating teeth and jaw alignment issues. You can learn more about Orthodontists at the Australian Society of Orthodontists website.

Is Dr Ward an Orthodontist?

Yes, you can check for yourself on the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency website.

How long does it take to fit the braces?

The braces appointment is for about an hour. Usually the fitting takes around 40 minutes and the rest of the time is spent showing how to clean and look after them, and to answer any questions you may have.

How are the braces kept in place?

Braces are “glued” in place with a material which is very similar to that used for tooth coloured fillings. It is not very strong as it has to be removed when the braces are ready to come off.

Are there things that can’t be eaten with braces on?

Yes. Because the braces are easily damaged, foods that are hard or sticky can’t be eaten. Tough food like meat needs to be cut into tiny pieces before you eat it. For more information - read our 'Caring for your braces' article.

Are braces hard to clean?

More time is needed to clean your teeth with braces. Also, you need to clean after every meal or snack, as food gets caught in the braces, and this can cause decay and inflammation of the gums.

Can I use an electric toothbrush to clean braces?

Brushing is a bit easier with an electric toothbrush, but they are no better at cleaning braces than an ordinary small toothbrush. You still need to spend the same amount of time cleaning with an electric toothbrush as with a normal toothbrush.

Do braces hurt?

Having braces fitted does not require any anaesthetic. They can be a little uncomfortable but usually not painful while they are being fitted. Your teeth can be tender for the first couple of days after they are fitted, but this goes away and is easily controlled with panadol. Sometimes there can be one or two mouth ulcers from all the new hardware but these don’t last very long.

Can braces leave marks on your teeth?

Provided you keep your teeth clean and stay away from foods that cause decay then braces won’t leave any traces of their presence behind. If, however, these two rules are not followed, then some white marks can develop around the braces. This is caused by acid created by the bacteria in dental plaque dissolving the tooth enamel.

Are braces becoming more common?

The need for treatment has not changed since about 1970. There are more people who are having braces mainly because treatment is now far more accessible – it is no longer necessary to travel to a capital city – and much more affordable. Also, many more adults are having treatment than previously, due to new materials and techniques that have become available.

How long do the braces stay on for?

Time in braces is very difficult to predict, it depends on so many things. We will give you an estimate of the treatment time in your letter of quotation, but it is still only an educated guess.

Is there any way I can make the braces work faster?

We want your treatment to be as short as possible. The best way to make sure that you have the braces on for the shortest possible time is to follow instructions exactly, keep your braces spotlessly clean and avoid breaking anything. There are some devices on the market that claim to shorten treatment times by gently vibrating the teeth. Their usefulness has never been independently verified to actually shorten treatment times and they are very expensive. If you would like to purchase one of these we can arrange it through our supplier at cost price, but we do not specifically recommend them.

Can teeth go crooked again after braces?

We will give you some retainer plates to wear after the braces are removed to keep your teeth straight. You may have to wear these plates for some years, and in rare cases for good. Although this may sound a bit daunting, the reality is that after the first year or so you will probably need to wear the plates for only one or two nights a week while you are sleeping.

Are there tooth-coloured braces?

We can use Ceramic or tooth coloured braces. They are much less noticeable than metal braces but have the disadvantage of not being completely customised to each case as the metal ones are. That makes the treatment a little slower and less precise. They are quite abrasive to teeth that bite on them and so can only be used on the upper front (non biting) teeth.

What about wisdom teeth?

We like to monitor our patients until their wisdom teeth are through. Sometimes the wisdom teeth become stuck or cause problems, and need to be removed. We will refer you to your dentist or to an Oral Surgeon for their removal if this happens.

Can I play contact sport with braces on?

Yes. We will give you a special mouthguard to wear while playing sport. If you play a contact sport and require a mouthguard please tell us when your braces are fitted, so that we can give you one.

Can I play a musical instrument with braces on?

Most wind musicians have no difficulty adapting to playing with braces on. Occasionally we have encountered problems with flautists unable to position their mouth correctly.

Should I join a health fund before I start treatment?

Joining a health fund is a personal choice. If you are joining a fund just to get a rebate on Orthodontic treatment then look very carefully before you decide to join. You may find that the cost of the fund subscription more than negates any rebate for the treatment that they give you.

Can adults have braces?

Teeth can be moved with braces at any age. The treatment tends to be a little slower as there is no growth to help with the correction.

Is GST payable on braces?