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All Posts in Category: Orthodontics

Turner Lim Orthodontists’ Xmas round up

Christmas is just around the corner. And so, we thought the time is right to look back at some of our favourite posts.

Our holiday schedule

We all deserve a break — even orthodontists! So, before we reminisce, to follow are the days that we are closed during the holidays:

  • Last day: Friday the 21st of December (close at 12 pm)
  • Reopening: Monday the 14th of January.

Look after your braces

It’s easy to let your guard down during the holidays. You’ll probably try different foods and slip out of your daily routine. We’d hate for a braces a malfunction to spoil your holiday fun, so here are some things you can do to ensure you don’t run into any orthodontic problems:

  • Get a braces ‘warrant of fitness’ — if you’ll be out of town for a while, see your orthodontist before you leave to make sure everything is in place.
  • Put together a holiday hygiene kit — this should include a travel toothbrush, dental floss and orthodontic wax.
  • Avoid certain foods — foods to avoid include corn on the cob, nuts and boiled lollies.

For more information about preparing for the holidays, read this post.

3 nearly invisible braces

Is your New Year’s resolution to do something about your crooked teeth? Good on you! If you’re an adult, though, you may be worried about how you will look wearing braces. After all, looks are important in the grown-up world. In reality, increasingly more people are getting braces later in life thanks largely to the several nearly invisible options of braces available. In this post, we explain three of these options.

Do you have to wear a retainer?

In case you don’t know, the purpose of a retainer, usually made or wire or plastic, is to hold your teeth in place after your orthodontist has removed your braces.

Around 10 – 15 years ago, many orthodontists didn’t tell their patients to wear a retainer. However, research shows that there is always the chance that your teeth will move post-treatment. So, ideally, you should wear a retainer for a couple of nights a week for a lifetime.

In this post, we explain:

  • How retainers work
  • For how long you should wear them
  • What happens if you don’t wear a retainer for a short period.

Merry Xmas

Finally, on behalf of the team at Turner Lim, have a brilliant Xmas and New Year!

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What are self-ligating brackets & are they faster?

Self-ligating brackets (SLBs) have been around for many years. In fact, a gentleman called Charles E Boyd first introduced them in 1933. In this post, we explain what SLBs are and whether they do as claimed — offer faster treatment.

What are self-ligating brackets?

Standard metal braces consist of brackets that are attached to a patient’s teeth, and an archwire is threaded through the brackets using o-rings — little rubber bands — to hold it in place.  Self-ligating brackets, on the other hand, feature a small gate at the front that secures the archwire when closed. SLBs apply less friction to a patient’s teeth, and no o-rings are required.

The purported benefits of self-ligating brackets

Here are some of the benefits that manufacturers of SLBs claim:

  • Faster treatment because less friction allows teeth to move more freely
  • More comfortable due to less friction
  • Longer intervals between appointments
  • Better results

The benefits sound impressive — who doesn’t want faster treatment? However, many orthodontists, including us at Turner Lim, remain unconvinced that SBLs are any faster or better than other braces. In fact, a recent study suggests that SLBs could be slower than traditional braces by up to two months. Also, SLBs are not the most cost-effective option.

Should you avoid self-ligating brackets?

No. If fast treatment is important to you, SLBs are worth a try. Just be aware that the evidence to back up that they work faster is ‘thin on the ground.’

One of the better-known self ligating brackets is the Damon System. We have used this system in the past at our West Auckland clinic but feel it’s quite bulky — more compact brackets are easier for our patients. We do currently use a clear SLB  because it doesn’t have o-rings that discolour over time due to food. It also has a lower profile than the Damon System and so is more comfortable for our patients.

What determines the speed of orthodontic treatment?

It is claimed that SLBs apply less friction and, therefore, work faster than other braces because they allow patients’ teeth to move more freely. Yes, the initial alignment of teeth can be rapid, but the roots still require time to move into their correct positions.

In our experience, several factors determine the speed of orthodontic treatment, not least the skill of your orthodontist — her treatment plan, bracket placement and selection of wires and mechanics, etc. There are other factors, too, including:

  • Cooperation of patients — whether they wear the elastics as instructed.
  • Biology — every patient is different.

We hope you found this post useful. If you did, please share.

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Boy undergoing maxillary expansion.

The many benefits of maxillary expansion

Maxillary expansion is the orthodontic process of widening the upper jaw (maxilla) to align with the lower jaw. There are several benefits of this procedure that go even beyond orthodontics, which we discuss in this post. But, first, let’s look at why and how orthodontists use maxillary expansion.

In orthodontics

By widening a patient’s upper jaw, orthodontists can create space to correct crowding. The procedure also often eliminates the need for tooth extraction.

Why is expansion needed?

A narrow upper jaw won’t come right over time or as a child grows into an adult. Luckily, jaw problems in children are visible early. In fact, orthodontists usually carry out expansion on pre-adolescents because, at that age, their bones are not yet fused together, making it easier to widen the palate.

Crowded teeth because of a narrow jaw can cause the following problems:

  • Teeth are difficult to clean. As a result, food can become trapped and cause bad breath and gum disease.
  • Teeth can wear abnormally. Crowded teeth often don’t align correctly with their counterparts and touch tooth areas they shouldn’t.
  • It can be difficult to chew. The inability of teeth to make contact with each other can make chewing a problem.

How does maxillary expansion work?

The orthodontist will cement a custom-made appliance (expander) to the patient’s posterior upper teeth (bicuspids and molars). The expander has a small screw or spring that when turned, generates a force that gently separates the two palatal bones. The orthodontist will instruct the child or parent to turn the screw once a week, sometimes more often.

Beyond orthodontics

As mentioned in our introduction, there are other non-orthodontic problems maxillary expansion can address. Here they are.


Yes, you read right. It is thought that expanding a child’s upper jaw can reduce or stop bedwetting. Now, you may be sceptical that maxillary expansion could cure for such a condition, but it makes sense. You see, many experts believe there is a link between bedwetting and breathing sleep disorders. The palate forms the base of the nasal airway, so widening it can improve airflow.

Sleep apnoea

Again, because maxillary expansion improves patients’ airways, it is thought to improve obstructive sleep apnoea in children — where the child stops breathing several times during the night. In adults, the lack of decent sleep can manifest in them falling asleep at inappropriate times. With children though, poor sleep can lead to hyperactivity, behaviour sometimes misdiagnosed as ADHD.

Hearing problems

Finally, several studies show that the hearing of hearing impaired children can improve from between two to 19 decibels after maxillary expansion.

There is still plenty of debate over the merits of maxillary expansion beyond orthodontics. If you feel, however, that the procedure may help your child, we recommend you consult a doctor to investigate allergies or adenoid problems first.

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