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What You Need To Know About Orthodontics
Orthodontics is a dental specialty. Just as a medical doctor can specialize in a field such as neurology, a dentist can specialize in one of nine recognized specialties. Orthodontics is one of those. The goal of orthodontics is to prevent, diagnose, and treat dental as well as facial irregularities such as a bad bite. Many practices in the field are limited to dentofacial orthopedics, but general orthodontists can treat patients at any age.
Orthodontists are fully qualified dentists. They must take at least three years of education at an accredited college or university, and then gain experience as a resident in a dental clinic. Most will seek to gain membership in the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), which is the regulating body for this branch of dentistry.
What Do Orthodontists Do?
On your first visit, your orthodontist will examine the jaw and teeth of the patient. Misalignment of the teeth can cause problems with speech, chewing, and in maintaining normal oral hygiene.
Here is a short list of the more common issues an orthodontist commonly treats:
This is the most common problem orthodontists must address. In some people, the jawbone isn’t wide or long enough to hold the teeth. Overcrowding can also be caused by extra (supernumerary) teeth. This can cause alignment problems with the teeth. Teeth can be realigned using a number of treatments and devices.
These are underbites, where the lower teeth are located out in front of the upper teeth, and overbites, where the lower teeth are set behind the upper teeth. Both of these conditions can cause a great deal of difficulty in chewing and in speaking, as well as affect your overall facial profile.
With some people, the shape of their face can be impacted by a bad bite or malocclusions in a negative way. By restructuring and realigning the jaw, lips, and teeth, an orthodontist can give the patient a better quality of life and a better looking smile.
How an Orthodontists Realigns Teeth and Jaws
After an initial examination, with X-rays and bite impressions, an orthodontist will come up with a plan of treatment. They will then recommend the best possible plan for the condition of each patient.
The most common treatments an orthodontist uses include:
Dental braces are a combination of brackets, affixed to individual teeth, and archwire, connected to the brackets, are used to train teeth into the proper alignment. These braces are most often made from metal or ceramics.
Headgear and Facemasks
These are devices used, for the most part, to correct an under or overbite. They are commonly used in addition to dental braces, and the orthodontist will design the headgear to attach to the braces. These encourage the teeth and jawbone into proper alignment.
After teeth have been aligned with braces, a retainer may be used to ensure the teeth do not move back to their previous positions. They are typically worn until the underlying bone has stabilized into the new and correct position.
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