If you have kids, then orthodontics is a word you’re likely to come up against at some point – you might even have had work done yourself! If you’ve ever wondered what orthodontics is or whether you or your children need an orthodontist, don’t worry you’re not alone. We’ve asked our local specialist Orthodontist Dr Jessica Li from Marvel Orthodontics to elaborate.
Straight pearly whites that gleam in the sun is the dream set of teeth for many of us! Of course, our child’s growing jaw often has other plans when it comes to tooth positioning, which is where orthodontics comes into it.
Dr Jessica Li from Marvel Orthodontics in Gordon shares exactly what an orthodontist does, treatment options available and the best age to start treatment in kids (and even adults).
Who and what is an orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a specialist dentist trained in the diagnosis and treatment of teeth alignment, jaw relations and facial irregularities. They specialise in providing a range of treatment solutions for straightening crooked teeth, correcting misaligned bites, and aligning facial/jaw asymmetry.
An orthodontist first trains as a general dentist, completing their five-year degree. They then are required to practice as a general dentist for a minimum of two years before further specialist training in the field of orthodontics for another three years.
Although you don’t need a referral to see an orthodontist, your general dentist may find a problem and refer you to an orthodontist for further diagnosis or treatment. Both general dentists and orthodontists work closely together throughout your treatment to ensure your teeth are in optimal health.
Who needs orthodontic treatment?
If you have problems with your bite or have misaligned teeth, then orthodontic treatment could benefit you. While many think orthodontics is mainly about straightening teeth, there are also important functional reasons for achieving a confident and natural smile. Proper alignment reduces unnecessary wear and tear on your teeth and helps keep them clean and gums healthy. You only have one set of natural adult teeth, so it’s worth looking after.
Teeth grinding, clenching, jaws clicking, speech problems, issues chewing are all conditions that come from orthodontic problems.
Here are some common problems an orthodontist can help with:
- Spacing: excess gaps between teeth can look bad and prone to damage and dental health.
- Overjet: when the top front teeth protrude forward over your bottom teeth. This makes them wear out faster, more likely to get damaged and can impact the growth of the bottom teeth.
- Crowding: when there is not enough space in the jaw for your teeth, some of these teeth may be pushed forward, backward or to the side leaving them hard to clean and prone to decay.
- Cross Bite: if the top jaw is too narrow, the lower jaw can move to one side and affect a proper bite.
- Open Bite: happens when the top and bottom teeth don’t meet when you close your jaws. This makes everyday eating hard and can cause wear on the teeth where they do meet and may even cause speech difficulties.
- Under Bite: when the lower front teeth protrude out beyond the top teeth. This can be seen as unattractive and can cause uneven damage to the surrounding teeth.
Other notable problems include missing teeth, deep bite (where the top front teeth cover the lower teeth) or regular thumb sucking (which can move teeth and supporting bone out of their normal place).
What is the best age to consider orthodontic treatment?
Although orthodontic treatment is suitable for all ages, it’s best to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to your dental health. If you notice any issues or something is simply bothering you, it’s best to see an orthodontist early so they can determine the best treatment options for you at the most appropriate time. It’s about solving small problems early to avoid bigger problems in the future.
If you’re not ready for treatment, the orthodontist can monitor the growth and development of your teeth and intervene when needed. If you’re not suitable for orthodontic treatment, then at least you know!
The Australian Society of Orthodontists recommends children have an orthodontic assessment at around the age of 7-8. This is the ideal age for an orthodontist to start monitoring as most children will have a mixture of adult and baby teeth. Any signs of issues can be determined early before more serious problems start to develop.
If treatment is needed, this form of early intervention works great because the teeth and jaws are much easier to move at this age. The main goal here is to guide the eruption of the adult teeth into better positions and make any future treatment easier and more predictable.
Good news! If you didn’t have access to treatment when you were younger or your teeth shifted later in life, there is no age limit for getting straighter teeth. With the increasing awareness of the benefits of straighter and aligned teeth, orthodontics is no longer just for children and teens. Recent years has seen a significant trend in the number of adults wanting orthodontic treatment for themselves to ensure their natural teeth stay healthy and look great later in life.
What treatment options are available?
While many people associate orthodontics with the infamous metal braces, there are other treatment options available for all ages:
- Braces come in the form of traditional metal or clear ceramic (which blends in with the natural colour of your teeth). Braces use a combination of small brackets on the teeth and wires to shift your teeth into the desired position.
- Clear aligners, such as Invisalign or Spark Aligners, are growing in popularity, especially among adults. Aligners are custom-made series of clear plastic “mouthguards” that sequentially move your teeth over time. They can be removed during eating, drinking or brushing, however it does require a high level of self-discipline and compliance for them to work effectively.
- Orthodontic appliances are corrective appliances custom-made to correct bite problems and jaw misalignment in children and teenagers. These include, but are not limited to: bite correctors, expanders, removable appliances.
Is orthodontic treatment painful?
Orthodontic treatment is non-invasive and shouldn’t hurt. However, you may experience some level of discomfort in the first week after fitting your appliances and adjustment as your teeth start to move. Usually, this subsides within a few days otherwise paracetamol often does the trick. Some might not feel anything at all and even forget the appliances are there. Everyone is different.
About Marvel Orthodontics
Marvel Orthodontics’ mission is to create smiles by providing the best patient experience through personalised care and treatment excellence. Their highly specialised and professional team genuinely care and are here to look after all members of the family, from your very first visit to the moment you show off that new smile. The friendly staff at Marvel Orthodontics want to get to know you, understand your goals, answer your questions, and address any concerns you may have.
“To create smiles by providing the best patient experience through personalised care and treatment excellence.”
As a specialist practice, they treat patients of all ages from young and old to find their natural smile by normalising jaw relationships and teeth aesthetics. Marvel Orthodontics provide a state-of-the-art facility that includes the latest equipment and technology to deliver the best clinical outcome for their patients. They also prioritise the highest standards of cleanliness and sterilisation for the interest and safety of both their patients and staff.
Book a Free Consultation with Marvel Orthodontics
Ready to find out if you or your children need some orthodontic work done? Marvel Orthodontics is currently offering a free comprehensive consultation to North Shore Mums. Now’s the ideal time to be proactive about your teeth! Find out if you or your child is suitable for braces, Invisalign or early intervention in the comfort of their brand new state-of-the-art Gordon practice.
- Address: Ground Floor, 774 Pacific Highway, Gordon NSW 2072
- Phone: (02) 9122 1900
- Website | Facebook | Instagram
About Dr Jessica Li, Marvel Orthodontics: After having braces as a child, Dr Jessica Li saw first-hand the impact and transformation it had on others, she set her eyes on becoming an orthodontist so she too can make a positive change for others. She is deeply passionate about the field of orthodontics, so it is no wonder she tap dances to work every morning.