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What is an Orthodontist?

Just like doctors like to specialize in areas such as neurology and cardiology, dentists also specialize. Orthodontics refers to a specialty in dentistry that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities, such as bad bites (malocclusions). Lots of to orthodontic solutions are limited to general orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics but can treat any patient regardless of their age.

Orthodontists have gone through additional three years of university-based study and gained in-depth clinical experience via an orthodontic residency program. The body that regulates this branch of dentistry is the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). Choosing an orthodontist who is an active member of this body assures the patient that he is dealing with a specialist in biomechanics and oral biology. It is recommended by the AAO that children be first examined when they are about seven years of age, to be sure that the tooth and jaw irregularities have not started forming.

What do orthodontists do?

Orthodontists have expertise in correcting misaligned jaw and teeth. There are lots of debilitating issues connected with misalignments, such as difficulties in chewing, speech defects, and difficulty sticking to proper oral hygiene.

Here’s an overview of the common problems orthodontists can treat successfully:

  • Anteroposterior deviations – examples of anteroposterior deviations include underbite (which means that the lower teeth appear to be further forward than the upper teeth), or an overbite (the upper teeth are further forward than the lower teeth). Both deviations can make it difficult to chew properly.
  • Overcrowding – overcrowding remains one of the most common issues treated by orthodontists. When the jawbone lacks sufficient space, adult teeth will not be able to erupt in alignment with adjacent teeth. The orthodontist uses a number of unobtrusive treatments and devices to realign the teeth.
  • Aesthetic issues – sometimes, a bad bite or malocclusions can affect the whole shape of the face negatively. The orthodontist is capable of realigning and restructuring the teeth, lips, and jaw to create a beautiful and even smile.

How does an orthodontist realign teeth and jaws?

First, a comprehensive examination of the teeth and jaw is carried out by the orthodontist. He then takes Panoramic X-rays and bite impressions (study models) before any treatment recommendation is made. The orthodontist then recommends the best treatment plan for the exact condition of the patient.

Here’s an overview of the treatments that may be administered by orthodontists:

  • Dental braces – The combination of an archwire (which connects each bracket), and brackets (which are affixed to each tooth), are placed carefully in training the teeth into the correct alignment slowly. Dental braces are made of ceramics, metal or “invisible” (clear) materials.
  • Headgear and facemasks – these devices are used in correcting a developmental issue, such as an underbite or overbite. Aside from the dental braces, the orthodontist designs the facemask and/or headgear; it is fitted around the head and attached to the braces. This structure will help the jawbone and teeth to align properly.
  • Retainers – after using dental braces, removable devices or a headgear to realign the teeth, the orthodontist may then provide a retainer to ensure that the teeth do not start shifting to their original positions. The patient wears the retainer until the underlying bone has reformed and realigned into the correct position.

For question regarding orthodontists and the treatments they offer, please contact our office.

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