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Here are some frequently asked questions about orthodontics…

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is the most qualified person to diagnose, prevent and treat any problems you might have with the alignment of your teeth and jaws. They must be a dentist who is registered in the specialty of orthodontics (in much the same way that a cardiologist is a doctor who has become a specialist in heart problems).

To become an orthodontist In Australia these days you must:

  • Complete a Bachelor degree in Dentistry, then
  • Complete a Post-graduate Doctorate degree in Orthodontics (a 3-year full-time University course)
  • Be registered as a Specialist in Orthodontics by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

My dentist also does orthodontics, so should I have treatment there?

Some dentists have an interest in orthodontics and provide treatment in some cases, with varying levels of expertise and ability. There are no training requirements for general dentists to try orthodontics. However, a dentist cannot be a specialist orthodontist and a general dentist at the same time. Only a specialist orthodontist has the necessary training to diagnose and treat a wide spectrum of different cases, providing you with a much fuller range of options that could suit your particular case.

Ultimately it is up to the individual whether to have treatment with a specialist or general dentist, however, we would recommend at least seeking an opinion from an orthodontist as they are the most qualified in the field. There may also be health fund rebate differences between specialists and general dentists that may affect your decision.

Why have orthodontic treatment?

Often the appearance of the teeth is a major factor for people seeking treatment. Well aligned, good looking teeth can play an important role in self esteem and personal confidence. However, there are other very significant reasons why orthodontic treatment is of great benefit, the most common of which are:

  1. Hygiene: Crooked teeth can be harder to clean. If teeth are not cleaned properly there is an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
  2. Tooth wear: Teeth that do not fit together properly can wear excessively which then may affect the long term appearance and/or health of the tooth.
  3. Gum damage can occur when the teeth have excessive overlap or are poorly positioned.

Orthodontic treatment can also help to alleviate jaw-joint problems where a poorly aligned bite can stress the jaw joint causing damage and pain in and around the joint. Correcting poor teeth and jaw alignment can also bring improvements to speech.

Do I need referral to see an orthodontist?

No this is not necessary and we do treat many patients who have received a word of mouth recommendation about our practice. Most patients however, tend to be referred to us by their general dentist.

Unlike medical specialists where a referral from a GP is required for you to access a higher Medicare rebate, orthodontists are dental specialists and there is no contract with Medicare. However as dental specialists, your health fund will provide you with a higher rebate for our services. No referral from a dentist is needed to access this higher rebate.

We do recommend that our patients continue to have regular dental check-ups during orthodontic treatment, so when treatment begins our patients are also under the care of a general dentist.

What is the best time to see an orthodontist?

Generally treatment does not begin until the last baby teeth have fallen out (or sometimes just before). However some problems can be picked up early and in some cases they can be eliminated by earlier treatment. For this reason, it is generally recommended to have an orthodontic assessment at age 8.

Do I still need to see my general dentist during treatment?

We do recommend that our patients continue to have regular dental check-ups during orthodontic treatment, so when treatment begins our patients are also under the care of a general dentist.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Orthodontic treatment duration depends on what type of tooth movement is required. Simple interceptive treatment in young children can often be all over in a few months. Treatment for a teenager may take 12 to 18 months for a mild problem but more complex problems can take a bit longer than two years. Adults with a lot of work to do can take longer.

There is a wide variation in treatment time just as there is a wide variation in the type of problem that needs to be corrected. As a general guide, your treatment is quicker if you have a mild problem and you are growing rapidly. Severe problems in older patients do tend to take a lot longer.

What does orthodontic treatment cost?

The cost of orthdontic treatment varies with the type of treatment a patient needs or chooses, so an exact figure can’t be quoted without an examination of the patient. Simple treatments can cost as little as a few hundred dollars whereas more complex cases are more expensive. The best way to find out the cost of your treatment is to come in for an initial consultation where we can see precisely what you need and give you an idea of the cost.

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