Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Orthodontic treatments

2-minute read

Orthodontic treatments are dental procedures that help to straighten teeth and correct problems with your bite. These treatments are performed by an orthodontist, who is a specialist dentist. Orthodontists treat children, teenagers and adults. Learn what to expect from orthodontic treatment here.

When might you need orthodontic treatment?

You might need orthodontic treatment for:

  • crooked teeth
  • a bad bite, which is how your upper and lower jaws meet when you close your mouth
  • gaps between your teeth
  • problems with speaking, breathing or chewing
  • teeth that stick out.

An orthodontist can also assess children’s developing teeth and jaws, and help manage thumb or finger-sucking habits.

What happens during orthodontic treatment?

The orthodontist will probably talk to you and examine your mouth and face. You might be asked to have X-rays or have plaster models of your teeth made.

Your orthodontist will discuss the treatment they recommend for you. Treatment often involves using appliances called braces to straighten crooked teeth or to correct problems with your bite.

There are many different types of braces, including the traditional metal type. Other types include clear or tooth-coloured braces, braces you wear on the inside surface of your teeth and clear, removable ‘aligners’.

Wearing braces might feel strange in the beginning. If your discomfort doesn’t disappear, tell your orthodontist. They might be able to make adjustments.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Treatment usually takes about two years. You will probably need to see the orthodontist regularly to get checked.

Many people will then need to wear some sort of device to keep their teeth in position for some years, or for the rest of their life. Teeth tend to move back to their original position over time. The device might be used only at night, or it might be used permanently. You can discuss this with the orthodontist. 

Cost of orthodontic treatment

The cost of treatment will vary depending on the situation. Ask your orthodontist for a quote so that you know what to expect. It's a good idea to check if the quote covers:

  • consultation
  • pre-treatment reviews and orthodontic record-taking
  • orthodontic appliances
  • post-treatment reviews.

If you have health insurance, check whether you can claim some costs.

Benefits and risks of orthodontic treatment

Orthodontic treatment can help improve appearance as well as your bite. It can also help if you have problems with speaking, breathing and chewing. Having straight teeth can prevent damage from a bad bite and make it easier for you to clean your teeth.

However, orthodontic treatment takes a long time and can be costly. As with anything new, it may take you some time to adjust to wearing braces and to learn how to take care of your appliance.

Last reviewed: March 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Orthodontic treatment - Better Health Channel

Orthodontics involves the use of a range of corrective devices, such as braces and plates, to encourage the teeth to align properly.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Orthodontic dental treatment

Orthodontic dental treatment - orthodontic treatment can correct problems with crooked teeth and jaws and improve oral health

Read more on SA Health website

Dental treatment - Better Health Channel

Modern techniques mean that dental and oral health treatment is almost always painless.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Orthodontics, mouth guards & more: teens | Raising Children Network

Common teenage teeth issues include teeth-grinding, orthodontics and injuries to teeth. If your child plays sport, a mouth guard is a very good idea.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Dental benefits for kids (CDBS)

The Australian Government's Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) helps cover the cost of your child's visiting the dentist. Learn more here.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Dental care :: SA Health

Dental care - about common dental health conditions and how to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Read more on SA Health website

Kids' Health - Topics - Teeth - problems with teeth

If you are eating a variety of healthy foods, drinking tap water (which contains a tiny amount of fluoride)and brushing your teeth properly then you should have healthy, strong teeth

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo