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All Posts in Category: Orthodontics

When do I need braces

What to expect during your first visit to an orthodontist

So, you’re unhappy with your teeth. Maybe they are crooked or stick out.

The obvious solution, of course, is to see a specialist orthodontist. Despite this, your nervousness about what to expect might be holding you back.

In this post I explain what to expect during your first visit to an orthodontist. If you find this useful please share. I welcome your feedback.

When you arrive at the clinic, you will first meet a treatment coordinator. They are a contact person who will answer any questions you have, during or after your visit.

It is important we know a bit about you before we begin. So, your treatment coordinator will ask you to complete a questionnaire where you’ll be asked about your medical history and why you decided to come and see us.


Usually, we’ll take an x-ray using an OPG x-ray machine that rotates around your head. This machine will show all the teeth in your mouth as well as any that are developing. At this point we sometimes take photographs of your face and teeth.

Then either me, Dr. Fiona Turner, or my colleague, Dr. Donna Lim, will examine you. This involves studying your whole face and how your teeth fit within it. Then, we’ll examine your teeth and bite in more detail. We also find out what you want to achieve from having orthodontic treatment. We aim to do our very best to meet your expectations.

Once the examination is complete, we’ll show you what’s happening in your mouth — either using a mirror to show inside your mouth or with photographs taken during your x-ray — and discuss treatment options.

Is the timing right?

Sometimes, even if you want to, we can’t begin treatment immediately — the timing must be right. For example, children sometimes have to wait for their teeth to grow. Or, a patient might have a condition like gum disease, which needs to be treated first. In a situation like this we refer them to a specialist. Everyone is unique in terms of the right timing for their orthodontic treatment.

Affordable orthodontic treatment

Our goal is to make orthodontic treatment achievable. So, if you decide to go ahead with orthodontic treatment, we will take you through a range of flexible, affordable payment options tailored to your situation.

I hope this post has shed some light on what it’s like to visit an orthodontist for the first time.

If you found this useful please share. I welcome your comments.

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Turner Lim Orthodontists: Luca’s Experience

Turner Lim Orthodontists provide a broad range of orthodontic care. This post details the recent treatment of eight-year-old Luca De Biasio.

The problem

Luca visited Turner Lim with his mum, Eloise, after his school dental nurse noticed his six-year-old molars (the first adult molars a child develops at about six years of age) were growing off course.

Dr. Fiona Turner: “Luca’s six-year-old molars should have been growing behind his baby molars; instead, they were growing directly beneath. If left untreated, they would have eventually caused his baby molars to fall out prematurely. Because Luca’s six-year-old molars were too far forward, there would also be no room for his adult pre-molars to grow into his mouth.”

The treatment

To fix the problem, Dr. Turner says that Luca’s six-year-old molars needed to be pushed towards the rear of his mouth. To do this, she used a Halterman Appliance.

“With this appliance, ‘little wings’ are attached to the baby molar. Then an extension arm, much like a fishing rod, is attached to a little button on the six-year-old molar. This provides the necessary pressure to push the six-year-old molar back,” she says.

Halterman appliance

A picture showing how a Halterman Appliance is fitted

Working with kids

Dental or orthodontic treatment can be traumatic for anyone, let alone an eight-year-old boy. This is why Dr. Turner says it’s important to be open with patients. With Luca, she and her staff made a point of explaining to him what was happening as much as possible. “He needed to be comfortable with what was going on,” she says.

Luca’s mum, Eloise: “Luca is a bit of a ‘panicer’ and was quite nervous about the treatment. But they made him feel comfortable — everyone was very friendly and supportive. He was always happy to go to his appointments, even though it might hurt a bit.”

Because Luca was only eight years old, his mouth was small. So, the application of a Halterman Appliance was more complicated than if used on an adult.

Eloise: “There were two appliances fitted on his top and bottom jaw — they were quite massive.”

Eloise says that the appliance caused swelling to Luca’s cheek, so it needed to be adjusted several times.

“Turner Lim was very responsive. Whenever I phoned to make appointment, they were available straight away,” says Eloise. “Despite the extra appointments, the lump sum I paid at the beginning didn’t change.”

The result

Dr. Turner says that Luca’s treatment took about four months and his six-year-old molars are now in the correct position.
“Luca’s baby molars will now stay in his mouth for the appropriate amount of time, which is 11 to 12 years, and his adult teeth will develop normally,” says Dr. Turner.

Eloise: The clinic is modern and well designed — it’s a cheerful and happy place. Despite some discomfort, Luca was always happy to go to his appointments and was confident the treatment would work — and it did.

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Need your teeth straightened? See a Specialist Orthodontist

teeth straightening

You needn’t be an orthodontist to straighten teeth. Some dentists perform orthodontic treatment too. So, if you need orthodontic treatment, for yourself or your child, who should you see?

In this post I explain why it’s important that you see an orthodontist.

If I had a problem with my heart, I’d see a cardiologist. If I had an electrical problem I would use an electrician. Most people would.

An orthodontist is a specialist. Before they can use the title “orthodontists” they must complete at least eight years of study — five years of general dentistry followed by three years of orthodontics.

Also, only a specialist orthodontist can be a full member of the New Zealand Association of Orthodontics (NZAO), which aids with their ongoing professional development.

When performing orthodontic treatment, dentists, who are not fully trained, often don’t see the whole picture. For example, they might focus on straightening a patient’s teeth without giving enough thought to putting the teeth in the right place. Sometimes they overlook teeth that are growing off course, which can cause damage to other teeth. Some dentists even extract children’s baby teeth claiming it avoids treatment later. The science just doesn’t back up this claim.

At Turner Lim we mostly treat adult teeth. This way there’s no guessing what a patient’s tooth alignment will be like. Also, because we deal with the whole bite, we don’t get nasty surprises if teeth grow off course.

Removal of teeth

There is a perception that orthodontists always remove teeth. Some dentists who do orthodontics “close the deal” by telling patients that they won’t.

We don’t aim to remove teeth; however, there often isn’t enough room in the patient’s mouth. There are also many other factors to take into account. So, extracting teeth is often the best treatment. Failure to remove teeth can push teeth out of the jaw bone leaving them unsupported and in less healthy positions for good long-term dental health. Additionally, trying to fit too many teeth into a small mouth can leave the teeth looking too full for the face — the lips won’t be able to close over the teeth. When it’s time for the patient’s braces to be removed, the teeth just move back to their original positions.


Sometimes people say they don’t need a specialist. But you really don’t know what you don’t know.

If you have “vampire fangs”, then the problem is obvious. However, often patients with nicely aligned teeth have issues they’re unaware of. For example, a person with straight teeth might have a deep bite — when the lower teeth bite too deeply behind the upper front teeth. If a person is in their forties, they may have already lost considerable gum and bone. It’s only when we show them what’s happening that they see it as an issue.

As specialist orthodontists, we have the training and ability to assess new and existing treatment techniques (such as Invisalign and Suresmile) and use the most appropriate techniques for your bite — one size; one solution does not necessarily fit all.

Any questions?

Hopefully this explains why it’s important to see a specialist orthodontist, rather than a dentist who does orthodontic treatment. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below.

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