Orthodontics is the dental specialty which focuses on the correct alignment of the teeth and jaws. “Ortho” means correct and “dont” means teeth. So orthodontics is the correct alignment of the teeth. The specialty of orthodontics within the dental field has been around for well over a hundred years and was the first recognized specialty within the dental field
Orthodontists are also specialists in dento-facial orthopedics. This means that an orthodontist has expertise not only in aligning the teeth, but also in the correct alignment of the jaws. A person may have what looks like straight teeth, but the jaws don’t line up correctly. If the jaws are out of sync with each other, a bite problem can exist that may lead to tooth or gum injury.
Orthodontists are first trained as dentists. After dental school they attend additional full-time training for 2 to 3 years to become a specialist in orthodontics. So all orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists. Less that 6 percent of dentists are certified orthodontists. A general dentist can perform orthodontics for people, but cannot state that they are an orthodontist. For a list of qualified certified orthodontists in your area, you can visit the American Association of Orthodontists website at http://www.braces.org. There is a link that will give you the information to find a qualified orthodontist in your area.
It is estimated that 40 to 75 percent of the population could benefit from orthodontic treatment. Some may receive treatment as a child, while many others seek treatment as adults. Adults are often interested in the appearance of the teeth and smile. Did you know that many people judge success by the quality and attractiveness of your smile?
Most patients will begin treatment between the ages of 9 and 14, although there are some bite and teeth problems that an orthodontist would want to start treatment earlier. Adult patients often have more comprehensive concerns and the orthodontist will work closely with the patient’s general dentist to provide the best treatment possible. In the case of missing teeth, sometimes the orthodontist can close the space, but often it is better to keep the space open, align the teeth correctly around the space and have the patient’s general dentist place an implant or make a bridge to fill the gap.
Orthodontic treatment provides significant value to those with bite problems and mal-aligned teeth. An investment in orthodontic treatment can change a person’s life, how they feel about themselves, how others feel about them. And although orthodontic treatment can seem expensive, the benefits truly outweigh the costs over time.