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Q. What is Orthodontics?
A. Orthodontics is a specialist area of dentistry focused on straightening the teeth and correcting the bite to improve the appearance, function and stability of the teeth and jaws.

Q. What is the difference between a Specialist Orthodontist and a Dentist?
A. All Orthodontists have to be Dentists first, which takes five years of university training. A small part of this training involves Orthodontics, but the majority concentrates on other facets of dentistry. To become a Specialist Orthodontist, a practitioner must apply and be accepted to undertake a further three years of university study in Orthodontics at the post-graduate level.

The Specialist Orthodontist doesn't encroach on what the dentist does. We don't do fillings, drilling, tooth whitening or extractions. Instead we specialise in creating individualised treatment plans for patients who present with malocclusions (bad bites).

Q. Do I need a referral to make an appointment at Courtney Orthodontics on Elmira?
A. No. While patients are often referred to the Orthodontist by their dentist, we also welcome self-referrals. To make an appointment for an Orthodontic consultation, simply request a consultation online [link] or phone the practice on (06) 354 9606.

Q. When should Orthodontic treatment begin?
A. Most patients begin Orthodontic treatment once they have their full adult teeth. In some cases, early examination and treatment makes Orthodontic problems easier to correct, so an Orthodontic consultation around nine years of age is recommended. However there are exceptions if a parent, family dentist, dental therapist or the patient has noted a problem an orthodontic evaluation at any age is advisable.

Orthodontic treatment is also available for adult patients.

Q. What happens during the initial Orthodontic exam & consultation?
A. During the initial examination, Mike will work to determine what the problems are to form an accurate diagnosis. This normally includes:

  • Specialised x-rays, along with full sets of photos of the teeth and face
  • Creating a set of models of your teeth set up in the position you bite into
  • A tooth check to determine how the teeth bite together and to assess the jaw and face shape.
  • Discussing the patient's needs and desired outcomes for Orthodontic treatment.

Mike then puts all this information together to form an individualised treatment plan for the patient.

Q. What is involved in treatment?
A. Every patient who presents with malocclusion (i.e. bad bite) is different, so every individual will have a unique treatment plan. Treatment can involve a number of facets, which typically includes plates and braces. A small number of malocclusions are not able to be corrected solely with braces and require a combined approach of surgery and orthodontics. This type of treatment is undertaken once the bones of the face have completed growing this usually occurs during early adulthood. 

Mike will explain the proposed treatment plan in detail, and encourage patients and carers to ask lots of questions. It is important to understand and feel comfortable with the explanation so that an informed decision can be made.

Q. How long does it take to have braces fitted?
A. It usually takes about 45-minutes to have braces fitted. During the fitting, patients can relax and even watch TV on our specially-installed overhead screens.

Q. Do braces hurt?
A. Having braces fitted is a completely painless procedure that does not require anaesthetics. After the braces are fitted, patients will experience some discomfort for the first few days as the teeth begin to adjust. The level of discomfort varies between individuals and is usually eased with normal pain relief medication.

Q. How long do braces have to be worn?
A. The average length of treatment with braces is 21-24 months. This can vary significantly between patients depending on a number of factors such as, the severity of the problem being treated and the cooperation of the patient.

Once braces are removed, retainers are fitted to keep the teeth in their new position. Retainers may be removable plates or wires fitted between the teeth. Retainers play an important role in Orthodontic treatment and need to be worn according to the Orthodontist's instructions.

Q. How often does a patient see the Orthodontist during treatment?
A. Once braces are fitted, follow-up appointments are scheduled approximately every eight to ten weeks. These appointments only take 15 minutes, and are necessary for the Orthodontist to monitor treatment progress and adjust the braces. The colour of the braces (rubber rings) can also be changed at every appointment.

Q. How much does treatment cost?
A. The total costs for Orthodontic treatment vary depending on the severity of the problem, and the length and complexity of treatment. We provide the treatment fees before treatment begins. Treatment fees include:

  • The fitting of braces
  • All adjustments, materials, treatment visits and removal of the braces
  • The making and fitting of initial retainers
  • One year of care following the removal of the fixed braces

Additional charges apply if:

  • We need to replace lost or broken appliances (including retainers)
  • Some previously unidentified problem develops (e.g., unfavourable growth of the jaws)
  • Treatment is prolonged because the Orthodontist's instructions were not followed (e.g., not wearing elastics as directed, poor care of appliances, bad eating habits).

Q. How can I pay for treatment?
A: Methods of payment are: Mastercard, Visa, Q Card, Farmers Finance, Personal or bank cheque, Eftpos, cash or automatic payment.
Payment plans are available so that payments can be made throughout the course of the treatment. Practice staff are happy to discuss your payment options to find a solution that will work for you.

Q. Do parents/carers need to stay at the clinic during their children's appointments?
A: Parents and carers do not need to accompany their children to each appointment. We even provide bike-racks at the practice so patients can cycle to appointments. Our practice staff will ensure that parents/carers are fully informed of the treatment progress, regardless of whether they attend appointments.

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