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Patient Info

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an Orthodontist do?
An orthodontist is a qualified dentist who has undergone an additional three years of dental education, and obtained a higher qualification and training to correct more severe jaw problems. Unlike a regular dentist who practices in many areas of dentistry, an orthodontist only provides services that can straighten teeth and correct misaligned jaw structures.

Who is Dr Mark Leedham?
Beginning as an orthodontic specialist in 1994, Dr Leedham is an experienced orthodontist in the Northern Territory, with his main practice in Darwin (Tiwi) and clinics in Katherine and Palmerston.

Dr Leedham has been president of the Northern Territory’s Australian Dental Association branch, and is a past member of the Dental Board of Australia.  He is a member of the Australian Society of Orthodontists, and the American Association of Orthodontists. Throughout his professional life, Mark has generously volunteered his expertise to local Darwin and wider Northern Territory communities.

He is currently co-ordinator of the East Timor Orthodontic Project under the auspices of the Australasian Begg Society of Orthodontists. He is also the current President of the Australian Society of Forensic Odontology.

When should I visit an orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first see an orthodontist at around seven years old while their jaws and teeth are developing, but anytime between seven and ten years is a good time for a review unless there is a particular problem. However, orthodontic treatments are not reserved for children and teens.

Approximately one in every five orthodontic clients are over the age of 21, so if you’re considering treatment for yourself or your child, please just contact us on (08) 8945 4844.

Do braces hurt?
In most cases, braces don't hurt. You may, however, feel some discomfort for a few days after they are fixed as your teeth, gums, cheeks and mouth start getting used to your new braces. You may need some pain relief for a day or two, such as Panadol.

How often do I brush my teeth with braces?
When wearing braces, you should brush your teeth at least twice a day to ensure your teeth and gums are healthy and clean. Brushing helps to remove any food that may be stuck in your braces. You can use interdental brushes to get to places your brush can't reach. Please don't use toothpicks, as they may damage your gums or braces!

Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride too, and don't worry, we can show you how to best brush and clean your teeth, when you get your braces.

What can I eat with braces?
A normal healthy diet is quite OK with braces. Please don't eat sticky or really tough food though. You also need to avoid soft drinks and sports drinks, but you can drink as much water as you like!

How often do I need to get my braces checked?
Every six to eight weeks is the recommended interval for checkups and adjustments, and if you have braces it's best to stick closely to this routine. We will work with you to make sure that your teeth stay clean and healthy while wearing braces.

How long do I need to wear my braces for?
The amount of time that you'll need to wear your braces really depends on how your teeth are responding. As a general guideline however, most braces require between 18 and 24 months. In some cases though it can be as little as six to nine months for minor and less complicated problems.

And after braces?
Once the braces are removed you need retainers to keep them in line as the teeth settle into their new position. We will discuss the type of retainer when the braces are removed, but usually a simple removable retainer, worn at night is quite satisfactory. 

Will I need to wear a mouthguard for sports?
Yes, we would recommend a mouth-guard for any contact activities such as AFL, rugby, and even some non-contact sports like hockey where you'll want to protect your mouth and gums. The good news is that mouth-guards are available for people with braces. Once your braces are removed, either your own dentist or we can make you a custom made mouth-guard.

Should I still see my Dentist while I have braces?
Yes. This is very important. Your dentist can check your teeth for cavities, and give them a clean. You should see your own dentist every 6 months. Of course if we see any problems that need attention, we will tell you!

How do I schedule an appointment?
Simply call us on (08) 8945 4844 and our friendly team will be happy to help schedule a day and time at your convenience. 


'Caring for your braces' (176kb) 'What you need to know now your braces are off' (160kb) 'A Guide to Fixed Orthodontic Braces' (180kb)
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