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When to take your child to an orthodontist

When should I take my child to an orthodontist?

Braces are more commonly worn by teenagers. However, increasingly more adults now choose to wear braces to straighten their teeth and correct their bites. Thankfully, braces are smaller and more technically advanced than they used to be — and some people even enjoy their bit of bling!

In this post we explain when to take your child to an orthodontist. If you find this useful, please share. Your questions or comments are welcome.

As a parent, you might have heard of other children getting full orthodontic treatment in their preteens; maybe you want the same for your child. You may feel that early treatment could reduce the need for treatment (and having wonky teeth) later on.

Avoiding the guess work

There is a good reason why major orthodontic treatment is usually applied to patients in their teenage or latter years. You see, by then, a patient’s bite has fully developed — all their adult teeth have come through.

As orthodontists, we prefer not to guess what a child’s teeth will do — treating a child too early relies on chance. For example, after having braces fitted at younger than ten, a child’s 12-year-old molar might grow incorrectly and result in more treatment (and additional expense) later on.

Treating preteens

At Turner Lim Orthodontists, we do like to see children at around the age of eight to nine. Though, as already mentioned, treatment is unlikely. Any orthodontic treatment we do carry out will likely be less involved, like fitting a removable plate or limited fixed braces.

One benefit of seeing a child at around nine is it enables us to spot problems early, like:

  • a tooth being prevented from growing
  • a tooth stuck across the bite, known as a cross bite
  • crowded or missing teeth.

Skeletal mismatches between the jaws can also be identified, and we can sometimes correct them early orthopaedically, rather than later on. This can be the case for someone with a very small lower jaw, which gives them a big overbite (overjet/buck teeth). This sort of bite can be linked to teasing and a higher risk of the teeth being knocked. In contrast, someone with a very big lower jaw may have to wait until their face has completely stopped growing.

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

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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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