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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.

Why 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 or contact us.

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The pros and cons of four types of braces

Do you need braces? If so, there are several options to choose from. In this post I describe four types of braces we offer at Turner Lim.

1: Metal braces

metal braces

When you think about braces, you’ll more than likely picture those made of metal — they are certainly the most common.

Metal braces are made from high-grade stainless steel and rubber bands are used to attach the wire. Thankfully, these days, metal braces are smaller, more comfortable and nicer looking than in days gone by.
Metal braces now use heat-activated archwires that use your body heat to move your teeth quicker and with less pain.

Pros: Metal braces are the least expensive. The o-rings also come in a variety of colours, which allow children to express their personalities.

Cons: They are the most noticeable of all types of braces.

2: Ceramic braces

creamic braces

Ceramic braces are popular with adults. This is because they are made of translucent material, which is less noticeable. Some come with tooth-coloured wires, which make them even more appealing.

Pros: They are less visible than metal braces and move teeth faster than clear plastic aligners (Invisalign).

Cons: They are also more expensive than metal braces.

3: Self-ligating braces using the Damon System

Damon System

Traditional braces apply pressure by using o-rings to push your teeth into position. Damon braces, on the other hand, don’t use o-rings or metal-tie wires to hold the arch wires in place. Instead, they use a sliding mechanism. Though your teeth are still forced into position, they can move freely. As a result, you may experience less pain.

Pros: Compact and can be easier to clean. Though debatable, you’ll likely experience less pain.

Cons: They are expensive compared to other types of braces.

4: Invisalign®


Invisalign uses a series of 18 to 30 mouth-guard-like templates (called aligners). These templates are generated by computer simulation and can be removed every two weeks.

The Invisalign system is suitable for adults or teenagers with particular bite problems.

Pros: You can eat and drink what you want. The aligners are clear and almost invisible.

Cons: Invisalign is not effective for serious dental problems. It is a more expensive option and the aligners can get mislaid easily.

Don’t forget about a retainer

Once your braces come off, you still need to wear a retainer. If you don’t, all the progress you’ve made will be wasted as your teeth move out of alignment.

Please share if you found this post useful. If you have a question, please leave a comment or contact us.

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