Early Orthodontic care and functional appliance use:

Your Dentist or School Dental Therapist may have talked of malocclusion in relation to your child’s teeth. The term ‘malocclusion’ means that the teeth are not meeting together as they should or the jaw is slightly out of position.

The teeth may begin to look crowded as the adult teeth appear, the bite may be very deep, overlapping or off to one side. The upper teeth may appear to stick out too far in front.

In the past, orthodontic work has usually been carried out when all permanent teeth were through—however, it is now widely recognized that certain problems including discrepancies between the upper and lower teeth and jaws can be more easily modified while the child is young and still growing.  


Ian Ongley and Fred Hunter are Otago-trained Dentists. Neither are specialist orthodontists, but have attended many seminars over the years and have some 35 years experience collectively. They practice 'functional orthodontics' looking not only at the straightening of teeth but the overall health of the patient as well. They are interested in such things as breathing habits, tongue position, swallowing and the over all body posture.

Their aim is being to begin treatment as early as possible (with the ideal age being 6-9 years) while the child is still growing and in mixed dentition (still has some baby teeth).

Both Ian and Fred practice predominately in non extraction orthodontics (preferring to make room for the second teeth instead) but should extraction be absolutely necessary they will rarely remove premolar teeth.

Stuart Duncan has returned from the UK to join us as a full time dentist. He is also a general dentist who has a passion for orthodontics. Stuart can be found at Champion Dental from Monday-Thursday and Fridays at Kapiti Dental Centre.


Benefits of early treatment:

Some of the benefits of early treatment are listed below.

  • Correct mouth breathing
  • Guide the growth of the jaw
  • Regulate the width of the upper jaw 
  • Preserve or gain space for permanent erupting teeth
  • Guide growing permanent teeth
  • Upright lower teeth
  • Reduce the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth (teeth that haven't erupted)
  • Reduce or eliminate abnormal swallowing and or speech problems
  • Assist with cranial and neck imbalances
  • Improve personal appearance and self-esteem
  • Simplify and/or shorten treatment time for later corrective orthodontics

Orthodontic process:

Appointment one is the "consultation".   The Dentist will look at the teeth, the bite, jaw position and facial features. He will explain a little about orthodontics and his first impressions on your child’s occlusion and jaw relationship along with possible treatment options. The cost of this appointment is $82.00.

The second appointment is for "record-taking". This is where we gather all the information needed to make a diagnosis and prepare a treatment plan.

Impressions and photos are taken of your child’s teeth, and either x-rays are taken or an appointment made for a future time.

The cost of this appointment is $552.00, this includes the next appointment which is the "treatment plan". 

Appointment three is the "treatment plan" all findings, treatment options and diagnosis are discussed.

A letter of confirmation with pricing details included will be sent to you.

If you decide to proceed with treatment we require you send in the "consent form" and the appliance, plate or plates are ordered. At this stage it is usually a good idea to make the next appointment for the fitting.

 Appointment four - Usually up to four weeks later. Insertion of the plates is done. Instructions are given and the following appointment or appointments are made. It is usual from here on in to have 4-6 week adjustment appointments.

Note: Should you have a strict time table it is recommended that you make appointments in advance, as our dentists are usually booked up at least 6 weeks in advance.

The active stage will depend upon the severity of the case but may continue from anywhere between 6 to 22 months before the desired affect is achieved.

Once the active phase is complete the patient enters the retention phase. This phase is most important and instructions need to be followed closely so that the teeth do not try to move back to their original position.
Sometimes after dental plates are used fixed braces may be required to finalize the position of teeth prior to retainers. 
If cranial, neck or breathing abnormalities are detected, referrals to chiropractors or cranial osteopaths may be recommended.


Wearing a retainer:

The retention phase of orthodontic treatment is most important as our teeth tend to move throughout life naturally. Your child’s Dentist will prescribe a period for wearing his/her retainer.

It is vital that all instructions during and after active orthodontic treatment are adhered to for this treatment to be successful.


Treatment costs:

Your first 3 appointments for treatment are: Consultation, ($82.00) Record taking ($552.00) and Treatment plan (no charge). At this stage a letter will be sent with information outlaying the full treatment plan with both cost and time involved.


FAQs concerning orthodontics:

When is the best time to start orthodontics?

As early as possible, with the ideal age being 6-9 years while the child is still growing and in mixed dentition (still has some baby teeth) is the best time to start. We also find that younger children adapt far more easily when wearing an orthodontic appliance.

Am I too old for treatment?

The oldest patient we have treated has been in her 60's and our youngest patient to date has been 5 years of age.

What's the difference between a specialist orthodontist and a dentist who does orthodontics?

A specialist orthodontist typically continues their university training for 2-3 years following their dental degree and subsequently restricts their practice to orthodontic treatment. The general practitioner dentist finishes their degree and subsequently engages in continued education, often over decades, and does not restrict their practice to orthodontics only. Both practitioners are expected to provide a similar standard of care.

Will my child's crowded teeth improve as they get older?

This would be unusual and in fact many malocclusions slowly get worse with age up to a point. It is possible for a child to grow out of their malocclusion if the underlying cause of the problem is removed but this typically involves some sort of intervention.

Do you take out permanent teeth?

We make every effort not to remove teeth. This is the very reason we like to see children so early. We do however acknowledge that occasionally there are situations where tooth extraction is unavoidable and more appropriately the treatment of choice.

If my child begins orthodontic treatment how often will they need to visit?

Frequent visits are a must to ensure a positive outcome as planned. Appointments can vary between 3-6 weekly depending on the course of treatment but usually average out at 4 weekly.

Will I need to see my family dentist during orthodontic treatment?

Absolutely. Most of our clients are seen regularly for routine preventative and restorative care. We recommend 6 monthly visits to a dentist and 6-12 monthly visits to the hygienist.

While children are having orthodontics with us we usually offer at least one free dental check up and one hygienist appointment.

Do you offer after school appointments?

Yes we do. We are open early in the morning and one late night as well. However we do not have a dentist (who treats orthodontics) available every day. As we do our best to accommodate our patients needs we would like you to appreciate that it is also impossible for us to serve our large patient base solely outside of school hours. 

How long will treatment take?

This can depend greatly on the severity of the malocclusion. The time it takes to correct this can take anywhere between just a few months up to 2 years or sometimes more.

To make an appointment with either Ian Ongley, Fred Hunter or Stuart Duncan:

Please telephone Champion Dental Centre on 04 237 9081 or the Kapiti Dental Centre on 04 298 6754 to make an appointment.

Note: We prefer not to make appointments via email (this can be tricky and very time consuming) so please do call us.