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All Posts in Category: Braces & Retainers

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.

X-ray

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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How does an orthodontist fit dental braces?

If you’ve got crooked teeth, braces are an obvious solution. But have you ever wondered how they are fitted?

In this post I explain the steps an orthodontist takes to fit braces. If you find this useful please share and if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below.

The fitting of braces usually requires two separate appointments.

The first appointment: Fitting spacers

Your first appointment will be fairly brief and usually takes place about a week before your second appointment. Spacers will be fitted in between your back teeth. These create space for bands to be fitted around your molars during your second appointment. Expect your teeth to feel a little bit uncomfortable and tight with the spacers fitted. This is very normal! You also need to be careful not to dislodge them with your tongue or toothbrush or with sticky foods.

The second appointment: Braces on

At Turner Lim, we usually book the second appointment for late morning — when the clinic isn’t too busy. You will be with us for about an hour and a half, so I recommend you have a good morning tea beforehand and some mild pain relief, like Panadol, to ensure you are comfortable for the rest of the day.

Removing the spacers

The first step is to remove the spacers that were fitted during your first appointment. We will then give your teeth a good polish — even when clean, your teeth have a very thin coating that will prevent glue from setting on your braces.

Fitting the bands

The next step is to fit bands around your back molars. We will select a band that looks like it might fit (we have lots of sizes) and put it on the tooth. A special tool is used to fit the bands and we will ask you to help out by biting on, what’s known as, a “bite stick”. Fitting a band is a bit like fitting a shoe — we’ve got to find the right one.

The removal of the spacers and fitting of the bands is usually carried out by a skilled orthodontic auxiliary. As the orthodontist, I come in to make sure the bands are well fitted and make adjustments if necessary. I’ll then remove the bands from the molars and cement them back on.

Orthodontic bands and spacers

Fitting the brackets

Next, the brackets are fitted. These are the little square-shaped metal or ceramic buttons that are attached to the other teeth in your mouth.

Before they can be fitted, though, your mouth must be very dry. This is very important so that the braces stay on the teeth. So, to absorb saliva, we’ll apply small absorbent pads to the corners of your mouth and use a small vacuum. We’ll also fit a kind of lip guard into your mouth that holds your lips out of the way — you won’t thank us for this; you’ll look a bit like a hapuka fish, but at least your mouth will be nice and dry.

fitting the brackets

We then squirt a jelly onto your teeth. This stays on for about 30 seconds before it’s washed off and a primer is painted onto your teeth, which will ensure the brackets stick.

Next, we work methodically around your mouth applying the brackets. A blue light is used to cure the glue and make sure it sets.

Once we’ve fitted all the brackets, your mouth no longer needs to be kept dry. So, we’ll remove the pads and lip guard.

Fitting the wires

The final stage is to apply a flexible wire, known as an “archwire”, through the tubes on the bands and brackets. The wire is held in place with either coloured o-rings or little gates, depending on the kind of braces you have chosen. We start off with a thin, flexible wire. Later, when your teeth become lined up, it is replaced by a thicker wire. We then make sure the ends of the wires are turned away so they don’t catch on your cheek.

fitting of wires

Caring for your braces

It’s important that you understand how to properly care for your braces. So, once your braces are fitted, we take about 20 minutes to explain how to keep them clean, what foods to avoid and what to expect now your braces are fitted.

What do you think?

If you found this post useful please share. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them in the comments section.

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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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