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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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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.

If you find this useful please share. If you have any questions, please leave a comment at the end.

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.

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What is SureSmile and why should you be interested?

Have you heard about SureSmile? Actually, it is quite likely you haven’t because, despite the fact that orthodontists in the United States and Australia have been using it for a number of years, SureSmile is quite new to New Zealand.

Turner Lim Orthodontists was actually one of the first New Zealand orthodontic practices to adopt Suresmile technology — first in the North Island

Let me explain why …

What is SureSmile?

You could describe SureSmile as a reinvention of orthodontic treatment. For the patient, the benefits are significant. They include:

• fewer visits to the orthodontist
• less discomfort
• higher-quality results.

How does SureSmile work?

Using an OraScanner — a wand that works like a 3-D camera — your orthodontist takes pictures of your teeth. These are sent to a computer and a detailed 3-D model is constructed. Using this model, your orthodontist can see how your teeth fit together from any angle. And by using virtual tools, which come with SureSmile software, they can determine the final position of your teeth and the best plan for your treatment.



The OraScanner taking 3-D images of a patient’s teeth.

Sometimes your treatment will start with a scan of your teeth using a Cone Beam Computer Tomagraphy (CBCT). A CBCT scan allows your orthodontist to see the position of your teeth as well as their roots.

Once a treatment plan is determined by your orthodontist, a robot bends a memory alloy archwire in accordance with your prescription. The archwire, once fitted to your teeth, then delivers gentle, consistent forces to move them directly to the desired position.

robot shaping archwire

Robot shaping archwire

To see how this works, view this video.

So, why is SureSmile better?

As I mentioned, there are three key benefits — fewer visits, less discomfort and higher-quality results. Let me explain these benefits in more detail …

Fewer visits to your orthodontist

SureSmile treatment is on average 29% faster than traditional treatment. This is due to the unprecedented precision made possible by the 3-D imaging and the use of a robot to bend the archwire. The archwire will push your teeth in multiple directions to exactly where your orthodontist prescribes — first time around.

So, this means the need for manual adjustments is reduced considerably and your treatment is completed much faster.

Less discomfort

If you know someone who’s worn traditional braces, the chances are they’d say they weren’t very comfortable.

With SureSmile, the system is engineered to maximise the efficiency of each wire — each wire provides smoother movement for a more comfortable experience.  Also, due to the precision of the technology, you don’t have to experience so many uncomfortable adjustments in the orthodontist’s chair.

Higher-quality results

With traditional braces, your orthodontist adjusts the wires manually. As already mentioned, SureSmile wire is adjusted to your prescription by a robot — to a level of precision that no human can match. And when the wires are put in place, each tooth moves directly to the prescribed position. It is this precise movement that produces superior results.

So, I hope this post explains why SureSmile is so good. If you found this useful please share. If you have any questions, please leave a comment.

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