We Are Wollongong & Campbelltown's Choice for Straight Teeth and Childrens Braces

The name ‘maxillofacial orthopaedics’ can be very confusing. In simple terms, it means changing the size, shape and relationship of the bones of the face and jaws. In most cases, this correction can be accomplished with functional removable orthopaedic appliances as opposed to surgery.

The first step in treating your child is to fully understand the nature of the problem. In order to arrive at a proper diagnosis, Dr Van Vuuren will take a series of images. These include study impressions of your child's teeth, photographs of the face, X-rays of the teeth and jaws and a single X-ray of the skull called a cephalometric radiograph.

Once Dr Van Vuuren has all of this information, he can diagnose the exact cause of your child's problem. It is important for you, the parent, to understand that the improper alignment of dental units is usually more complex than just ‘crooked teeth’. Dr Van Vuuren must not only straighten the teeth, but must also establish balance and harmony within the jaws, face and the temporomandibular joint.

Contact our team or read more information about childrens braces and specific orthodontic treatments below.
The exact type of treatment that will be required to correct your child's problem will obviously depend upon the information that was gained from the diagnosis. However, we can divide therapy into four categories. They are functional orthopaedic therapy, extraction therapy, surgical therapy and fixed appliance therapy. In order to eliminate confusion, let's briefly define these four concepts of treatment.

Functional Orthopaedic Therapy
When a removable orthopaedic appliance is used to correct jaws that are growing improperly. A different form of appliance may be required to treat different growth problems.

Extraction Therapy
When the removal of permanent teeth is required in order to correct an orthodontic problem. This technique is used very selectively as it is usually in the patient's best interest to maintain all of the permanent teeth if possible.

Surgical Therapy
Just as the name implies, this procedure is reserved for those patients whose bony imbalance has progressed to the point that only surgical intervention can correct the problem.

Fixed Appliance Therapy
This is the conventional appliance technique using fixed braces. The appliance is attached to each individual tooth for precise positioning of the teeth. 

It should be noted that quite frequently two or more of these techniques are combined in order to achieve the desired results. Your dentist will explain to you the type of treatment that can best correct the patient's problem.

Now that we have a basic understanding of the problem and the treatment, let's get down to the ‘nuts and bolts’ of everyday therapy. Most cases require between two and three years of active treatment to correct. This means that discipline is important.

We have already stressed the need for cooperation. 
Beyond this, here are some pointers that can be very helpful:

Cleaning: Both the appliance and the teeth must be cleaned regularly. Any of the commercial denture cleaners work quite well when used on a daily basis to clean the appliances. However, some patients will build up a white coating on the appliance that is difficult to remove by soaking. Be careful!! Do not bend any of the wires while brushing the appliance.

The teeth should be brushed twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Flossing is also helpful in preventing cavities from forming in between the teeth. If the patient is in a situation where brushing is impossible, taking water and swishing it around the mouth is the next best way to clean the teeth.

Wearing: All appliances should be worn full time unless otherwise instructed by Dr Van Vuuren. Exceptions can be made for eating and cleaning. Some appliances are best removed during contact sports. Dr Van Vuuren should be consulted regarding each individual situation.

There are a number of different kinds of retainers. Dr Van Vuuren will select the particular type of retainer that is best suited for each patient. No matter what type of retainer is used, it is extremely important that it be worn according to Dr Van Vuuren's recommendations.

Common Questions

As with anything that is new and unfamiliar, many questions always arise. The following are the most common. If you do not find an answer to your question, be sure to ask Dr Van Vuuren. The more you understand about the treatment, the better it will progress.
What causes the problem in the first place?
No one knows the exact cause of every orthodontic problem. Some causes are very evident; such as thumb sucking. Most are much more complex. However, the old cliché that the patient inherited daddy's teeth and mother's jaw is simply not correct.

Why do my child's teeth look so large?
The teeth do not change in size once they are formed. In a normal relationship the face and jaws grow fast enough to accommodate the erupting permanent teeth. It is when this balance becomes disrupted that orthodontic problems start to occur. 

Are teeth ever actually too large for the patient's mouth? 
Yes. However, this is not a common occurrence. Incidentally the teeth can also be too small for the patient's face and jaws.

Is early treatment always best? 
Not necessarily. If the patient's problem is growth related, then it certainly is wise to begin therapy early. The majority of problems fall into this category. However, if the problem is simply ‘crooked teeth’, Dr Van Vuuren may advise you to delay treatment until all of the permanent teeth have developed into the mouth.

Can my child be treated with only removable appliances? 
Not usually. Sometimes all of the permanent teeth will correctly align themselves following orthopaedic therapy. Everyone should be prepared to complete the second phase of treatment which is orthodontic therapy with fixed braces. Click here for more information. 

What will the treatment cost?
In most situations Dr Van Vuuren can provide you with a reasonable estimate of the expenses involved. If you have any questions regarding the fee, by all means ask Dr Van Vuuren or his experienced team.

Do children ‘talk funny’ with appliances in their mouth? 
Only for a short period of time. The speech pattern will quickly adapt to the appliance when they are worn full time. 

When can my child take the appliances out?
Only when eating and brushing. There are certain exceptions such as singing in a choir, but these should be discussed with Dr Van Vuuren. There are also certain malocclusions, in which case it's best to eat with the appliances.

For any further questions you may have on orthopaedic treatment, please call us today!
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