Frequently asked questions

Orthodontic Treatment Enquiries

Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of problems in the alignment of the teeth and jaws. Orthodontic treatment involves the use of braces, removable appliances or other corrective devices to move the teeth and jaws into “normal” alignment. It may involve changing the position of the teeth or modifying the way the jaw grows (dento-facial orthopaedics).

After graduating as a dentist, an orthodontist completes a Master’s Degree which involves an extra three years of University and research. Orthodontists are specialists who only practice orthodontics and dento-facial orthopaedics.

Smiles can be enhanced at any age, however most orthodontic problems are best treated when a person is young. The best age to start orthodontic treatment varies from person to person, depending on their particular problem. Dr Vautin recommends an initial assessment at age 8 years of age so that treatment can be started at the ideal time. In certain situations early interception can take advantage of facial growth and tooth eruption to reduce the severity of a problem and make later treatment less complex and less time consuming. However, in most cases 6 to 12 month review visits are recommended to monitor growth until the optimum time to start treatment.

No. Braces aren’t just for kids anymore. Modern techniques and materials have allowed our mature patients to successfully and happily undertake orthodontic treatment. Adult patients can start treatment at any age but may require a longer treatment time because they have a denser bone structure. Despite this, the results are just as effective.

Orthodontic appliances work by gently pressing on your teeth which over time moves them into the desired position. Braces are a combination of brackets and archwires. Brackets are the parts that are attached to the teeth but it is the archwire that provides the necessary force to move the teeth into position. In many cases extra forces are needed to fit teeth properly together or alter jaw discrepancies. Examples of these include: elastic bands, expanders, headgear and functional appliances. Your braces need to be adjusted periodically so that they move correctly and at the optimal speed.

Wearing braces is simple and easy with the modern brackets and wires available today. It is normal to experience some discomfort after placing orthodontic appliances and following your adjustment appointments. Any discomfort is usually mild and is controllable with non-prescription analgesics, such as Nurofen or Panadol. Initially the braces feel like they “stick out” but the lips and cheeks become accustomed to this after a few days. Until your lips and cheeks get used to the braces on your teeth, you may find it helpful to use a small amount of orthodontic wax around the brace causing the irritation.

Adjustment appointments are scheduled according to individual patient’s needs and the stage of treatment. Most patients are usually seen between 4-8 weeks. Using self-ligating braces (Innovation R) in conjunction with high-technology super-elastic archwires allows adjustments to be spread out even further (8-10 weeks). However, the process of tooth alignment always needs to be monitored regularly by the orthodontist and so is not a fully automated system!

Yes. When your braces are fitted we will provide you with a comprehensive list of foods to avoid. Hard and sticky foods should be avoided. Most unscheduled visits to repair broken or loose braces can be avoided by taking care with what you eat. Also beware of chewing pens or pencils as this may also damage your braces. It is important to minimize the number of breakages when wearing braces in order to prevent your treatment taking longer than anticipated.

The length of treatment depends on the severity of the problem that requires correction, growth and the level of patient co-operation. More severe problems take longer and require more co-operation. In general, braces need to worn for between 9 and 30 months. The average “treatment” time in braces is 20 to 24 months but treatment time may be longer than estimated if growth is different than expected or if patient co-operation is less than ideal. Orthodontic treatment is a team effort in which you and your orthodontist play important roles that can impact on the length of treatment and the quality of the final result.

Yes. However it is recommended that patients protect their smile by wearing a mouth guard while playing sport. If you play sport and need a mouth guard please let us know and we will organise one for you.

If you are wearing braces you should brush your teeth at least 4 times per day – after every meal and when you go to bed. We also recommend the use of tooth mousse to further protect your teeth.

The developmental stage of growth experienced by teenagers is the ideal time to address any orthodontic concerns. During the teenage years, we experience rapid overall growth and dental development. For this reason, this changing phase of growth is an ideal time to receive orthodontic work because the oral condition is in a state of change and the tooth structure is not yet cemented in place. That said, it is still possible to get braces at an older age.

Once we reach the age of about 20 years old, our teeth have reached their permanent structure. After this age, the structure of the smile is not as malleable as the developmental stage of growth is over. Although orthodontic work is generally more simple during the teenage years, it is still possible to undergo orthodontic treatment at a later stage in life.

Yes, we offer Invisalign Teen, which is a discreet alternative to traditional metal braces. It is virtually invisible and works by straightening the teeth without the use of a noticeable orthodontic device. Advanced aligners guide the teeth into place gradually over time.

Appointment Enquiries

No. We do recommend, however, that you see your dentist for a check-up before your braces are fitted.

We prefer to avoid this but in some cases removal of teeth may be recommended. This decision will only be made after careful analysis of all possible alternatives. We do not recommend the removal of teeth unless it is absolutely necessary.

Apart from your initial assessment and longer appointments such as fitting and removing braces which will require up to 1 hour of your time, the majority of shorter adjustment visits (10 – 15 minutes) can usually be scheduled before or after school or work. Our staff will always endeavour to meet your needs.

Certainly. Regular check-ups with your dentist are important during orthodontic treatment to keep your teeth and gums healthy during your orthodontic care.

It is impossible to give an exact cost until we have examined your teeth. The cost of treatment and payment options will be presented to you at your initial visit. We have several flexible payment options available to suit your needs and will discuss these with you.

Service and Appliance Enquiries

After braces are removed a retainer is worn to prevent your teeth from moving back towards their original position. Retainers provide assurance that your teeth will stay in alignment while your jaw continues to grow. The longer you wear your retainer, the better your chances that your teeth will remain straight.

Removable appliances or plates are useful for undertaking minor tooth movements over a relatively short period of time (up to six months). For any removable appliance to work efficiently it must be worn according to the orthodontist’s instructions. If not worn as required or taken out of the mouth too often, treatment time will be much longer than planned with less effective results.

Patients with a severe protrusion of their upper teeth (overjet) often have a discrepancy between top and bottom jaws. Functional appliances are removable appliances which are designed to use normal facial growth to correct a jaw discrepancy. Because of this, these appliances are only suitable for growing patients.

This approach using functional appliances relies on early interception starting at about 10 years of age. There are numerous types of functional appliances and our preference is the Twin Block appliance which is regarded as one of the most successful functional appliance designs in the world.

This success is attributable to their ease of use, being removable and made in two parts to permit normal movement and ease of speaking. Functional appliance therapy normally lasts approximately 9-12 months and is usually followed by fixed braces to get a perfect result. The best results are achieved by wearing functional appliances as directed. Remember: if it isn’t worn, it isn’t working.

Expanders are used to expand the upper jaw to correct crossbites or make space. Two different expanders are used – the quad-helix and Hyrax Screw (Rapid Palatal Expander), depending on the severity of the problem.

If you are fitted with a rapid palatal expansion screw you will need to follow the activation schedule recommended by the orthodontist for the treatment to be effective.

Orthodontic Mini-implants are small screws that are placed into the jaw bone to provide a temporary anchorage point.

The procedure is usually performed comfortably by Dr Vautin with a minimum of local anaesthetic. They are in place for a period of several months and are simple to remove. Mini-implants make it possible to move a tooth (or a group of teeth) without pulling on the other teeth in the arch. Mini implants facilitate certain tooth movements that are otherwise impossible.

Headgear is used to place gentle pressure on the upper jaw and teeth to correct any discrepancy between the top and bottom jaws. A headgear comprises two parts: a metal facebow and safety strap. The facebow attaches to tubes on the upper back teeth while the strap usually fits around the neck and is then connected to the facebow. A head gear is ONLY worn at home.