Orthodontic dental treatment

Why have orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment may:

  • correct problems with crooked teeth and jaws 
  • improve appearance and the way teeth bite together
  • make cleaning teeth easier
  • prevent tooth wear
  • help with speech problems
  • improve long term oral health. 

How will I know if I need orthodontic treatment?

The School Dental Service dentist will assess if you need a referral to an orthodontist.

Who can be treated?

SA Dental Service generally offers orthodontic treatment to children who are dependants of/holders of a Centrelink Concession Card, Department of Veterans’ Affairs Concession Card or School Card, or who are under the Guardianship of the Minister and who are assessed by the School Dental Service dentist as having an orthodontic problem which would benefit from correction.

Children turning 18 and adults are not referred for orthodontic treatment.

Occasionally however, clients with a severe jaw alignment problem may need major surgery, and this may involve orthodontic treatment.

If you are eligible for orthodontic treatment in the public system you will be assessed, given a priority category for treatment, then be placed on the Orthodontic Unit waiting list at the Adelaide Dental Hospital.

All patients (except children under the Guardianship of the Minister) are required to pay a client fee towards their orthodontic treatment.

When your name reaches the top of the waiting list, information about the client fee will be provided at your consultation appointment.

If you are not eligible for orthodontic treatment in the public system, you may be referred to a private orthodontist.

What happens when your name reaches the top of the waiting list and you are offered orthodontic treatment?

An appointment is made for an initial consultation at the Adelaide Dental Hospital.  If you are under 18 and have not had a dental check-up in the last 6 months, you will be referred back to your school dental clinic for a general dental check-up and any treatment needed.  

Advice about your best treatment options, when treatment should start, how long it might take and the client fee will be discussed at a 2nd consultation appointment at the Adelaide Dental Hospital. Impressions of your teeth for plaster models, photographs and xrays of your teeth and jaws may also be taken.

The upfront fee charged for this appointment, will be deducted from your overall orthodontic treatment fee.

Why do you need healthy teeth and gums?

  • Healthy teeth and gums are essential for orthodontic treatment to proceed.
  • Poor oral hygiene and too much sugary food and soft drink too often may lead to white spots and tooth decay. This may result in treatment being stopped earlier than planned and a less desirable outcome.
  • Braces make cleaning a little more difficult, but practice and patience will help overcome this. At your examination visit, any risks that may be involved with treatment will be discussed.

What are the different types of treatment?

Braces are most commonly used. They are the most effective and accurate way of moving teeth. Braces consist of attachments to the teeth and wires. Elastic bands may also need to be worn to help straighten teeth.

Other appliances, such as arch expansion appliances to correct cross bites and removable appliances to correct simple problems, may also be used.

These appliances work by exerting gentle pressure to teeth, allowing them to move slowly.

When braces or appliances are placed or adjusted, there may be some discomfort for a short time.

How long does treatment take?

Treatment generally takes about two years depending on the severity of the problem, the type of treatment required and the level of patient cooperation.

 There will be regular appointments during this time. It is important to keep all appointments.

When your braces are removed, you may need to wear a retainer for a number of years to hold teeth in their new positions. Retainers may be a clear plastic Vacuform, acrylic appliance or a wire cemented behind the teeth. Your progress will be reviewed for some time after treatment has been completed.

During orthodontic treatment, you must keep your regular dental check-up appointments with your local school or community dental clinic to check that your teeth and gums are healthy. 

If you have any questions or concerns about your orthodontic treatment, please speak to our clinic staff.