Frequently Asked Questions

Orthodontics is a dental speciality focussing on correcting
teeth and jaw irregularities and improving their function. This can include
straightening teeth and correcting misaligned bites through the use of orthodontic
appliances, such as braces.

Orthodontists and dentists share many similarities – they work
together to help improve your overall oral health – but they actually work in very
different ways. Dentists cover a broad range of oral health issues. An orthodontist
on the other hand, is a specialist who focuses on issues such straightening teeth
and correcting improper bite patterns. While orthodontists complete the same general
dentistry degree as dentists, they then go on to complete an additional three years
of university training to become specialists in the treatment, diagnosis and
prevention of facial irregularities.

Orthodontic treatment (including braces and clear aligners)
should ideally be provided by a registered specialist orthodontist. Orthodontists
have the skills and expertise to correctly diagnose orthodontic problems, assess and
monitor your tooth movements, and safeguard the health of your teeth.

No, anyone can make an appointment with an orthodontist at any
time, without a referral from their general dentist.

You will need to make an appointment with an orthodontist to
assess your teeth and explain the best treatment option for you. There are a range
of options available, including traditional metal braces, ceramic braces, lingual
braces and clear aligner treatments, such as Invisalign®. Your orthodontist will
help you decide on the best treatment option for you on a case-by-case basis.

There are several types of treatment available to orthodontic patients. Traditional
braces are the most common type of treatment and are capable of performing large
tooth movements, making them suitable for most cases. Ceramic or clear braces work
in the same way as metal braces, only they use clear or tooth-coloured ceramic
brackets and wires, making them a subtler option for adults.

Lingual braces are completely customised to the patient – making them one of the
most expensive options – and are placed along the inside of a patient’s teeth,
rendering them virtually invisible. Due to their close proximity to the tongue they
may cause some difficulty with speech during the adjustment period. Clear aligner
treatment, such as Invisalign®, uses a series of removable plastic trays to gently
move the teeth into a new position. This type of treatment requires diligence on the
part of the wearer as they must be worn for at least 22 hours a day to be effective.

This is dependent on the type of treatment you require and the
movements your teeth need to complete. While some people can complete a full course
of treatment in six months, for most people it usually takes between one and two

There is no ideal age to begin orthodontic treatment, with many
adults now undergoing treatment later in life. However, parents can take pre-teens
to see an orthodontist for an assessment if you are concerned about crooked teeth or
the effects of bad habits such as thumb sucking. Just like you would have a regular
dentist for your child by age 7, it’s also a good idea to have an ‘orthodontic home’
as soon as possible to help your child become comfortable with your specialist
orthodontist and their ongoing treatment plan.

It is recommended that you only undertake orthodontic treatment
under the supervision of a trained specialist who can properly assess your treatment
outcomes to ensure it is performed safely. Unsupervised treatment can be dangerous,
and may result in damage to the teeth, gums or jaw.

You can use the Find
An Orthodontist tool
to search for a specialist orthodontist in your area.
All members of the Australian Society of Orthodontists are registered orthodontic
specialists, so you can trust in their ability to treat you effectively.

Downloadable eBooks & fact sheets

For more information about treatment options for kids, teens or adults, please refer to our free downloadable eBooks and fact sheets below.

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Kids & Orthodontics eBook

Everything you need to know about orthodontic treatment for your family.

download now

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Adults & Orthodontics eBook

Everyone wants to have a beautiful, confident smile – no matter their age.

download now

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An Expert’s Guide to Clear Aligner Treatment eBook

Everything you need to know about clear aligner treatments, such as Invisalign®.

download now

What is an orthodontist

What is an orthodontist?

This fact sheet will help you to understand exactly what an orthodontist is.

download now

Before and after braces

What to do before and after getting braces

This fact sheet will help you to make the most of your orthodontic treatment.

download now

Before and after braces

Clear braces

A quick guide to wearing and caring for clear braces.

download now

Before and after braces

Lingual braces

A quick reference sheet for lingual (inside) braces

download now

Find An Orthodontist

Looking for a local orthodontist? Let us assist you.