What is an orthodontist?
Orthodontists are specialists in dento-facial orthopedics who have an extra 2 to 3 years of specialized education beyond dental school. They are experts in diagnosing, treating and preventing malocclusion (bad bites) and other irregularities in the jaw region and face. Orthodontists are trained to correct these problems and to restore teeth to a healthy, functional and beautiful aesthetic appearance.
Though orthodontics was originally aimed at treating children and teenagers, almost one third of orthodontic patients are now adults. A person of any age can successfully be treated by an orthodontist.
What is a Malocclusion?
A malocclusion is an incorrect relationship between the maxilla (upper arch) and the mandible (lower arch), or general misalignment of the teeth. Malocclusion is so common that most individuals experience one, to some degree. The poor alignment of the teeth and/ or jaws are result of hereditary, or genetics and environmental factors.
Malocclusion – common problems:
- Crowding: occurs when the teeth have insufficient space to erupt through the gum. Crowding can often be corrected by expansion, and many times tooth removal can be avoided.
- Underbite: the lower jaw extends out causing the lower front teeth to sit in front of the upper teeth.
- Overbite: the upper teeth extend out over the lower teeth, sometimes causing the lower front teeth to bite into the roof of the mouth.
- Spacing: spacing problems may be caused by missing teeth, or they may only be a cosmetic issue.
- Openbite: proper chewing is impacted by this type of bite, in which the upper and lower front teeth do not overlap. Open bite may be caused by things like thumb sucking and tongue thrusting.
- Upper front teeth protrusion: the appearance and function of your teeth are impacted by this type of bite. It is characterized by the upper teeth extending too far forward.
- Crossbites: the upper teeth sit inside of the lower teeth, which may cause misaligned jawgrowth.
How can patients benefit from orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontic treatment can be beneficial to almost any patient, no matter what age. Adults can benefit just as much as children and the treatment may not take any longer.
Some of the many benefits of orthodontic treatment include:
- Straight teeth and a nice smile that improves self-esteem and confidence.
- Improved facial esthetics and profile.
- Better chewing function and speech.
- To prevent excessive wear on certain teeth not contacting properly with the opposing arch.
- May alleviate some symptoms of TMJ discomfort.
- Improved ability to clean one’s teeth and avoids tooth decay and periodontal disease.
- Establish a healthy foundation for the replacement of missing teeth or other restorative dental work.
- The reduction in mouth-breathing and lip incompetence.
Today’s braces are smaller, stronger and more effective than ever before. Braces are more comfortable and can be more esthetic with clear braces or with the new Invisalign appliances. Comprehensive orthodontic care combines art, science and dental technology to create beautiful, healthy smiles that can last a lifetime!
At what age should my child see an orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that every child should be seen by an orthodontist at the first signs of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7.