Before you begin, we'd like to start by providing you with a few definitions regarding orthodontics.

ORTHODONTICS
This word is used to describe the science of straightening teeth. It is derived from the Greek, where ORTHO means straight and ODOUS means tooth. The specialist practicing the science of Orthodontics is an ORTHODONTIST. Today, of course Orthodontics means more than just straightening teeth. The Orthodontist has to take into consideration the lips, nose and surrounding soft tissues so that planning to position teeth must include the effects of treatment on the lips, jaws and soft tissues surrounding the teeth. For this reason the American Journal of Orthodontics is now the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dento-facial Orthopaedics. Hence the Orthodontist needs to have a special qualification to enable him/her to deliver a comprehensive and satisfactory treatment plan and to implement that plan efficiently to the best advantage of his/her patients who have to carry the consequences of treatment for the rest of their lives.

ORTHODONTIC QUALIFICATIONS / SPECIALISATION
An Orthodontist is someone who has a Dental Surgeon’s qualification and then completes a specialist postgraduate course of at least 3 years in the speciality of Orthodontics. As a specialist, he/she practices Orthodontics exclusively.

OCCLUSION
This describes the coming together of teeth or how they meet. When all the teeth meet in a natural, satisfactory way, the term used is NORMAL

OCCLUSION. MALOCCLUSION
This describes the condition where teeth come together badly ie. crowding or incorrect relationship of the upper and lower teeth and/or jaws. This condition requires an Orthodontist to restore it to NORMAL OCCLUSION.

OVERJET
The distance between the upper and lower teeth measured in a horizontal direction.

OVERBITE
The distance between the upper and lower teeth measured in a vertical direction.

TREATMENT TIME
The period when active orthodontic treatment is taking place. It is usually estimated at the time when discussion of the treatment plan is taking place.

RETENTION
This refers to the period after active orthodontic treatment is completed and generally requires wearing some appliances for a while. Our aim is to have as short a retention period as possible. This period generally reflects on the success of the treatment plan and it’s implementation. Long periods of retention especially in the upper jaw with removable appliances is not desirable from many points of view. Cases treated within the genetic parameters of the patient tend to be stable. The surrounding muscle and soft tissue forces eventually become dominant and it is biologically correct to respect the limits these tissues impose on the treatment plan. Over-expansion in the upper jaw with orthodontic wires alone in an attempt to accommodate all teeth without resorting to extraction (where this is definitely indicated), generally leads to long periods of retention because one is afraid to let go in case the teeth relapse into crowding again. Discussion of this point is best done before treatment starts in order to understand the implications involved.

If you are interested in further information regarding orthodontics, we highly recommend visiting the ASO (Australian Society of Orthodontists) website at www.aso.org.au In addition a preliminary visit to our office can be made where all questions will be answered willingly and in a caring manner.