We understand that a trip to the orthodontist can be overwhelming, so once we start discussing the more complicated aspects of your appointment it can be a lot to process. We’ve broken down some of the common terms that you might hear during your appointment.
When we need to ensure that gaps are closed, we can use C-chains. These sit on the brackets and apply a stronger force than wires and brackets alone. So when we want to speed up the process whilst ensuring that your teeth align properly, we place C-chains on.
Archwires are a significant component of your braces, they connect the brackets and bands and align your teeth. They can be flexible and allow us to control how your teeth align. We bend them and shape them to move your teeth to the desired positions
An expander can create more space in the mouth for those who have a narrow upper jaw. This is often a process that we go through with young children, correcting the issue before it becomes a significant problem. The expander is a custom–made appliance that is fitted to the roof of the mouth. Expanders can also improve crossbites, overcrowding and may even reduce the need for jaw surgery.
Patients may often need some extra assistance to help fix a bite or close gaps. Elastics connect to the brackets and can go between the upper and lower jaws. Each patient is different, so how you may wear your elastics will depend on your teeth and braces journey.
Retainers (fixed or removable)
Even after your braces journey, your teeth will need reinforcing. This is assisted with retainers. Retainers may be worn for the rest of your life to ensure that your teeth remain beautiful and straight, because no matter how long you had braces for, your teeth will eventually shift back towards their original position. Retainers can be fixed or removable. Fixed retainers are wires that get placed behind your teeth – usually on the bottom teeth, but often on the upper front teeth also. Removable retainers (plates or thin clear “mouthguards”) should be worn as much as possible for as long as possible. These are customized to suit your mouth and teeth.
Separators may be applied before braces are applied. They are small elastics placed between the back teeth to slightly separate the teeth to create space for metal bands to be placed around the molar teeth to anchor the braces.
Staining can occur whether you have braces or not, and often comes down to diet and dental hygiene. When it comes to cleaning your teeth with braces you need to ensure that you get into the trickier spaces. We can educate you on the best way to go about that. It’s also important to avoid over-consuming sugary food and drinks such as soft drink and lollies. If you don’t care for your teeth during the time that you have braces you will find that once the brackets are removed stains are left and you’ll be left with bracket shaped stains!
Just like a new pair of shoes can rub on your heel, and you put a Band-Aid on to prevent a blister, braces can be uncomfortable when you first have them applied. Wax is used to cover the brackets and protect your cheeks from getting aggravated and causing cuts or ulcers. The wax isn’t permanent and will come off with brushing and eating, so be sure to reapply.
Timing for Baby and Adult teeth
Remember that each child is an individual and may be faster or slower in their dental development than shown in this chart.
Matching teeth on either side of the mouth in the same jaw should usually fall out within 6 months of each other.
If you have concerns about slow dental development, eruption times, or if teeth appear out of sequence, consult your dental professional.
What is Oral Piercing?
Oral piercing involves a needle being passed through the tongue, lips or cheeks to create a hole for inserting jewellery such as studs, rings or barbells. Piercing is usually performed without anaesthetic
What are the complications of Oral piercing?
Complications can occur immediately after the piercing or in the longer term.
Infection can occur, especially if stringent infection control and sterilization procedures are not followed.
Swelling of the tongue can be expected after piercing. In severe cases, the swelling can obstruct the airway and cause severe breathing difficulties.
Slight bleeding is to be expected. Excessive bleeding can occur if major blood vessels are punctured during the piercing.
Pain should be expected post-piercing.
Teeth can be chipped, cracked or fractured due to being continually bumped with the jewellery, especially with barbells in the tongue. Microscopic cracks in the teeth caused by piercing jewellery are extremely painful. These cracks are difficult to treat and often result in the loss of teeth.
Gums and inside cheek tissue can experience trauma due to constant rubbing against the gum by the piercing jewellery, particularly with lip (‘la bret’) piercing.
Oral piercing can interfere with chewing and speaking. Nerve damage caused by an incorrect piercing can cause a loss of taste and/or speech impediments.
Nerve damage due to an incorrect piercing technique can cause facial numbness and/or paralysis.
There is a risk of infection due to foreign debris and bacteria accumulating in the pierced site.
There is a risk of contracting blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis and HIV if contaminated piercing equipment is used.
Hypersensitivity to the metals used in piercing jewellery may be experienced.
Ongoing swelling and pain may be experienced.
How can I minimize the chance of complications?
Even without complications, healing after oral piercing takes 4-6 weeks.
You can minimize the chance of complications by following these tips:
- Ensure the person performing the piercing is experienced, is aware of your oral anatomy and uses strict infection control and sterilization practices
- Gently suck on ice to reduce the risk of tongue swelling due to bleeding
- Seek immediate medical advice if excessive bleeding, swelling or pain occurs following a piercing
- If infection occurs, seek urgent medical advice
Once the piercing is in place, visit a dental professional every 6 months so the piercing and any potential damage can be monitored.
Make sure the size and position of jewellery does not damage teeth and gums. It is preferable to wear good quality plastic jewellery rather than metallic jewellery
To prevent damage to teeth and gums, remove jewellery before participating in sport and before sleeping.
While mouth rinses should not be considered substitutes for regular toothbrushing and flossing, they can be useful for a number of different purposes depending on their ingredients.
Mouth rinses are unable to penetrate existing plaque, making them ineffective below the gums. A mouth rinse is also unable to reach between the teeth.
A dental professional may recommend a specific mouth rinse for a specific oral problem. Dental professionals may also recommend rinses for those who cannot brush due to physical or medical conditions.
Many mouth rinses contain high concentrations of alcohol. Individuals suffering from “dry-mouth”, pregnant women and children should not use mouth rinses containing alcohol
Types of mouth rinses:
Mouth rinses are usually classified as either cosmetic or therapeutic.
Cosmetic mouth rinses: These are commercial over-the-counter products that help remove oral debris before or after brushing, temporarily suppress bad breath, diminish bacteria in the mouth and refresh the mouth with a pleasant taste. At the very least they are effective oral antiseptics that freshen the mouth and alleviate bad breath in the short term.
Therapeutic mouth rinses: These have the same benefits as cosmetic mouth rinses but they also contain an added active ingredient that helps protect against some oral diseases.
Common mouth rinses
These include saltwater, chlorhexidine, essential oils, fluoride and antibacterial rinses.
Saltwater: Mild, warm saltwater rinses may benefit patients who have ulcers, minor throat irritation, and denture sores or braces irritations by alleviating discomfort and aiding healing. Consult a dental professional if the area continues to be irritated or sore for longer than a week.
Chlorhexidine: This is very effective in reducing bacteria found in the oral cavity. Long-term use of chlorhexidine rinses may alter perception of taste, cause brown staining on teeth and increase in the formation of calculus (tartar or scale). The use of chlorhexidine should be recommended by your dental professional and used according to their recommendations.
Essential oils: These are proven to be effective in reducing bad breath.
Fluoride: These are recommended by dental professionals to control and prevent tooth decay. Use of a fluoride mouth rinse along with a fluoride toothpaste, can provide extra protection against tooth decay. However, the use of fluoride mouth rinse is not recommended for children.
Antibacterial: These reduce the bacteria in the mouth and alter the bacterial activity in the plaque. They are particularly helpful in controlling gingivitis and minor throat infections.
Using a mouth rinse
- Brush and floss the teeth before using a mouth rinse
- Measure the recommended amount of the rinse
- Rinse or swish the liquid around your mouth for the time recommended on the packaging
- Spit liquid out of the mouth
To maximise the effects of the mouth rinse, do not rinse, eat, or smoke for thirty minutes after using it.
Bad breath can have a significant and negative impact, both personally and socially, on those who suffer from it.
Bad breath (or halitosis) is the name given to unpleasant odours when we exhale.
In most cases bad breath originates from the mouth itself. The intensity of bad breath can change during the day, as a result of eating certain foods, smoking, alcohol consumption, and/or dryness of the mouth. Because saliva flow decreases during the night, bad breath is also common first thing in the morning.
What causes bad breath?
Bad breath can have many causes such as gum disease, tooth decay, poor oral hygiene, smoking, consuming certain foods and drinks, infections and gastric reflux. A dental professional can help identify the cause and offer solutions
Sources of bad breath:
Mouth: Most cases of bad breath arise from naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth acting on trapped remnants of food and dead skin cells. Large quantities of bacteria are often found on the back of the tongue, as this part of the tongue is relatively dry and usually poorly cleaned. Gum disease can also cause bad breath. Bacteria thrives below the gumline and releases a foul smell as it acts on the infected tissues
Nose: The second major source of bad breath is the nose. Nasal odour may be due to sinus infections or the presence of foreign bodies.
Tonsils: Bad breath can be caused by tonsillitis.
Systemic diseases: People with systemic medical conditions may experience bad breath. These include:
- Chronic liver failure
- Lower respiratory tract infections (bronchial and lung infections)
- Kidney infections/kidney failure
- Trimethylaminuria (“fish odour syndrome”)
- Problems with metabolism
- Conditions involving the regurgitation of stomach acids, such as gastric reflux, can also cause bad breath.
Factors which contribute to bad breath:
- Inadequate water intake
- Dry mouth
- Drinking alcohol
- Breathing through your mouth
- Illnesses such as tonsillitis
- Medical conditions such as diabetes and kidney/lower respiratory tract infections
How can I minimize bad breath?
Practice good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and regular visits to your dental professional. If you have dentures or plates clean and soak them overnight in an antibacterial solution (unless otherwise advised by your dental professional).
Gently clean the surface of your tongue twice a day with a tongue brush, tongue scraper, or tongue cleaner to wipe off bacteria, debris and mucus.
Eat a healthy diet. Be aware that certain foods can cause bad breath (eg- onions and garlic).
Make sure to drink lots of water during the day to prevent your mouth from drying out. A dry mouth can increase bacterial buildup and cause or worsen bad breath.
Chewing sugar-free gum can increase saliva production and help reduce bad breath. Saliva washes away oral bacteria, has antibacterial properties and promotes chewing which helps cleanse the mouth.
Mouth rinses often contain antibacterial agents. Other rinses rely on odour eliminators like oxidizers which will prevent bad breath on a short-term basis. The use of essential oils in mouth rinses is also effective in reducing bad breath. Some mouth rinses contain alcohol, which has a drying effect and can actually worsen the problem.
While the use of mints helps to mask bad breath, frequent consumption can increase the risk of tooth decay if they contain sugar. It is important to seek advice from your dental professional to determine the cause of your bad breath and receive advice based on your individual needs along with product recommendations to treat the source of the problem.
Getting Braces Is Only Cosmetic
Whilst getting braces can help straighten your teeth and improve your smile, they also help your overall oral health. Braces are often recommended for a misaligned bite. Abnormal bites can lead to damaged teeth, and it can even make brushing difficult.
You Must have Braces for a Long Time
Treatment plans vary from patient to patient, however, you might not need to have braces on for a long time, depending on your oral health. Most people have to wear their braces for one to three years, but it’s rare for patients to need them on longer.
Braces Are Painful
A common belief is that braces = pain. However, braces today have been updated so much that the straightening process. They’re much more comfortable and apply a more gentle pressure to push your teeth into place.
Wires Must Be Changed at Every Appointment
As we mentioned, each patient is different. Your straightening process will involve regular appointments so we can monitor your progress. We can determine if your wires need to be changed at the appointments according to how your teeth have moved.
Braces Set Off Metal Detectors
If you’ve ever walked through a metal detector and worried that your braces are about to set them off, worry not. Braces are made of a light material that won’t get picked up by a metal detector.
Your Teeth Will Be Straight Forever
Whist getting your braces off is an exciting time, it’s important to keep up your routines. Ensure that you wear your retainer regularly. Your teeth can still move a lot, so wearing the retainer will ensure all the hard work stays.
Getting Braces Means No More of Your Favourite Foods
Eating particular foods may be a bit trickier, but you can still enjoy your favourites. It may just mean that you have to chop up apples a bit smaller or remove meat from the bone before eating.
Any Dentist Can Put Braces On
A dentist can’t put braces on, however, they can recommend you get them should they see a problem. Orthodontists study and train for years to put braces on and diagnose and treat other oral health issues.
Braces Will Weaken your Teeth
Braces can improve the overall health of your teeth. They become straighter and more functional, making them stronger, healthier and increasing the lifespan.
Throughout history, people have been preoccupied with straight teeth, even dating back to Ancient Egypt when people, including Cleopatra, used animal intestines as a way of achieving a straighter smile. Today, braces are more advanced and use wires and brackets, but the intention is still the same- to achieve a straighter, beautiful smile.
The Etruscans wanted their deceased to maintain their looks in the afterlife, which led to the use of dental appliances. These devices were made from pure gold and acted as ‘bridges’ and preserved the spacing of the teeth.
Another technique that was created in an attempt to straighten teeth was the use of finger pressure. This involved applying pressure to teeth at regular intervals. A Roman Encyclopedist was the first to record the attempts and hypothesized that the teeth would slowly move and realign with the regular pressure.
Not only have mummies been found with dental devices, but Roman tombs have been opened up only to find that the people had braces like devices on their teeth. Small golden wires had been used to try and close any gaps in the teeth.
The 1700s marked the beginning of braces as we know them, with the concept starting to appear in books around 1770. One new concept at the time was the device called a “Bandeau”. The horse-shoe-like device would be inserted into a person’s mouth in an attempt to maintain the natural arch. Teeth could be tied to the Bandeau with silk to try to move them. Other ideas that emerged around this time included the theory that removing the wisdom teeth could prevent overcrowding.
One of the first forms of modern-day orthodontic treatment came in the early 1800s. A wire crib was a version of what we now know as braces. Wire cribs were a half-circle device that had the intention of keeping the teeth aligned.
By the mid-1800s, elastics were introduced as a way of realigning the jaw. Then at the end of the century, X Rays were used in dentistry. This allowed dentists to see future teeth and remove them before they caused issues, which also eliminated the need to remove other teeth that didn’t need extracting.
The term ‘braces’ was introduced in the 20th Century and whilst they were vastly different from braces today, they still worked towards achieving alignment of the teeth. Different materials were used, such as ivory, wood, copper, zinc, silver or gold. Gold was the preferred material, due to its flexibility, however, it all depended on budget and accessibility.
The 70s welcomed some breakthroughs in orthodontics, in particular the use of dental adhesives to hold dental brackets to the teeth. Until now, the wires were wrapped around each tooth. Stainless steel was also introduced, much to the relief of patients and orthodontists. This material was much more affordable and flexible. After braces became more affordable, people were hoping to find a more discreet alternative to the bulky headgear and wires. This was when dentists started experimenting with ‘invisible’ braces and placed the wires and brackets on the inside of the teeth. People could now straighten their teeth without the visible wires and brackets.
The idea of invisible braces continued to develop but it wasn’t until two graduates worked on creating an alternative to braces. After Zia Chishti realised that his teeth shifted when not wearing a clear retainer he paired up with Kelsey Wirth and together they combined 3D computer technology and the existing plastic retainers. Doing so allowed them to show what progression patients teeth would need to fully realign. Once they had this information they could create plastic retainers that would achieve different stages of alignment by gradually shifting the teeth. This was the creation of Invisalign which became available to the public in 2000.
With the introduction of finer braces and Invisalign, orthodontic procedures are common, with children and adults straightening their smiles. Over the years, braces have grown and developed and will most likely continue to do so, getting more affordable and quicker.
Each person is unique, including their teeth and jaws. While one person may experience crowding another might have spacing issues. That’s why we treat each person case by case. Braces and Invisalign can resolve these issues so you can achieve your dream smile as quickly as possible.
A crossbite means that teeth are misaligned. Top teeth will sit inside the lower teeth when your mouth is closed. There are two types of crossbites- posterior and anterior. A posterior crossbite sees your back top teeth sitting inside the bottom teeth. An anterior crossbite sees a few top teeth sitting behind bottom teeth, however, this is not an underbite.
You could experience a change in how your jaw sits, which can cause lopsided jaw growth. A crossbite can wear down the enamel on your teeth, weakening them and increasing the likelihood of chipping your teeth.
An underbite occurs when your lower teeth overlap your top teeth.
Similar to a crossbite, underbites wear down the enamel of your teeth. This issue can also cause stress on your jaw and may contribute to sleep apnea.
An open bite can be caused by thumb sucking and forces the teeth to misalign. An anterior open bite is when your back teeth are together but your front teeth aren’t, whereas a posterior open bite is when your front teeth meet whilst your back teeth do not.
An open bite can create issues with swallowing as the tongue pushes through the teeth. It can also cause speech issues and difficulty with chewing or biting food.
A deep bite is when your top teeth cover the bottom teeth too much.
A deep bite can cause the upper teeth to dig into your lower gums or vice versa. This can create gum issues, such as gum disease and ulcers, making eating a painful process. This issue will also wear down your tooth enamel, weakening the teeth.
Crowding of the teeth is a common problem and occurs when there isn’t enough space in the jaw or when there are large teeth. This may then lead to teeth overlapping, rotating or becoming crooked.
When crowding occurs, it makes cleaning your teeth hard to clean. When teeth aren’t cleaned properly cavities and gum disease are more likely to occur. Aesthetically, crowded teeth don’t look nearly as good as straight teeth.
Spacing is the opposite of crowding and occurs when there is too much room in the mouth or if teeth are underdeveloped and small. Missing teeth can also create spacing.
When your teeth are spaced out, you are more likely to get food stuck in the open areas. Gum disease and cavities can also be a consequence.
When your jaw is too far forwards or backwards, it creates protrusion of the teeth. Sometimes when your teeth have grown in at an angle, they can also cause the front teeth to then stick out.
When you have protruding teeth, they can be prone to being damaged. Having teeth that stick out can mean that you aren’t able to comfortably close your mouth and lips. This can dry out your oral tissue, which can lead to gum disease. Speech problems can also be a result of teeth protrusion.
If you notice your child developing any of these problems, we recommend coming in for a consultation. It’s always better to work on the issue as the child’s mouth is developing. However, this doesn’t mean that the problems are unfixable once a mouth has fully developed. We can also successfully treat adults with these problems.
Getting your braces off is an exciting time as you can finally show off your new smile.
After the time and effort put into achieving your dream smile it’s important to maintain those straight teeth. This is why orthodontists and dentists prescribe retainers. Wearing a retainer is a reliable way to ensure that your teeth stay in place.
Once your braces have been removed you’ll most likely experience extra sensitivity, so we recommend avoiding extra hot or cold foods for a little bit, just until your teeth adjust. This also applies to crunchy or chewy foods. Whilst you may be eager to embrace your new smile, we suggest waiting a month or two after removal before getting your teeth whitened. This process can be uncomfortable on sensitive teeth, so it’s best to avoid!
Hopefully, you were able to maintain good dental hygiene throughout the braces period, but it’s still important to have checkups and cleans after they have been removed. A good, post-braces clean, will ensure that any built-up tartar is removed. Then it’s up to you to maintain a good routine with flossing and brushing your teeth, as well as your retainer.
The initial period after your braces are removed is the most crucial. This is when your teeth are going to do the most moving as they settle and adjust, without the braces holding them in place. This movement is why orthodontists recommend wearing a retainer straight away. It’s not possible to over-wear a retainer. It’s best to wear it as much as possible to maintain your dream smile. Retainers are ideal because they are removable, so when you’re eating or brushing your teeth you can easily take it off. However, be sure to put the retainer back in its case. You don’t want to lose your retainer in a restaurant or risk a pet turning it into a chew toy!
Just like braces, retainers may feel odd at first. You might experience more saliva in your mouth or talking could become harder, but with time you’ll adjust to the retainer. Unlike braces though, retainers are much more comfortable as no wires or brackets are rubbing your cheeks.
Your mouth is ever-growing and changing, including the position of your teeth, so it’s important to follow the braces process with maintenance measures which is why we recommend wearing a retainer for as long as possible, even for life. At first, it’s best to keep the retainer on as much as possible, but after some time, nighttime wear will suffice. Further down the track just a few nights a week could be enough to maintain your straight teeth, however, it all depends on your and your teeth, as every mouth is different!
Learn more about your teeth!
– Teeth can come into the mouth with a cavity already.
– Baby teeth are called “deciduous teeth” from the Latin word “decidere” which means to fall off or to be shed.
– Enamel is the hardest part of your entire body, even harder than bones, however, teeth are not bones. Enamel is not living tissue meaning that teeth can’t heal the way that bones do. However, if you lose an adult tooth you can sit it in milk and then put it back into place until you can get to a dentist, but make it quick, this is only a temporary solution.
– Just like fingerprints, no two people have the same set and layout of teeth nor the same tongue print. Your mouth is unique!
– A person spends an average of 38.5 days brushing their teeth throughout their lifetime. Most people only brush their teeth for 45-70 seconds, however, dentists recommend brushing for 2 minutes, plus flossing, to get the ultimate clean.
– Many diseases are linked to oral health including heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes.
– It’s very important to floss! When you don’t you actually miss 40% of your mouth, which can contribute to cavities and overall health and hygiene.
– Only two-thirds of your teeth are visible, the other third are underneath your gums. Another reason why flossing is crucial to maintaining good oral hygiene, you have to get into all the crevices!
– Cheese can protect your teeth. Cheese has calcium, which helps build strong bones and teeth, but it can also balance pH levels. This helps to reduce acidity in your mouth, in turn minimizing the risk of cavities.
– Regularly drinking green tea can improve oral health. The tea has antiseptic properties that help with gum health, cavities, and bad breath. So next time you are craving some caffeine, opt for a green tea instead of coffee.
– The word, Orthodontics, is of Greek origin. “Ortho” means straight or correct and “dont” means tooth. Literally translating to “straight teeth”.
– Teeth move in response to pressure over time, so habits such as thumb sucking are going to negatively influence how your teeth are shaped. When it comes to orthodontics, constant, gentle pressure is applied to gradually get the teeth to the ideal position.
– Braces were originally made from gold. Until the 20th century, braces were reserved for the wealthy. NASA helped change that with the discovery of the nickel-titanium alloy. This material is used in most braces today and made them more affordable.
– Braces may seem like a recent practice, however, teeth straightening has been a process for centuries. Evidence has been found in Egyptian mummies, with some of them being uncovered with bands made from animal organs on their teeth, suggesting that they were using techniques for teeth straightening. The first official braces were created by Pierre Fauchard in 1728, who used wires and gold thread.
– The basis of Invisalign was created by students in 1997, who developed Align Technology at Stanford University.