Orthodontics 101

 

What is Orthodontics?
     
 

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that is officially know as Orthodontics and Dentofacial orthopedics. The purpose of orthodontics is to treat any type of malocclusion, which is simply another way of saying, "bad bite."

When you have a malocclusion, that means your teeth, lips and /or jaw don't line up the way they should. As a result, your teeth may be crooked, your bite may not work correctly and your jaws may not look balanced.

To fix bad bites, orthodontists - dentists who are specially trained - use braces and other corrective procedures, including materials often called "appliances," to achieve tooth and jaw alignment. This correction of the teeth and their supportive structures makes for a healthy, attractive smile.

     
  What is an Orthodontist?  
     
 

An orthodontist is a specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. All orthodontists are dentists, but only about six percent of dentists are orthodontists. Admission to orthodontic programs is extremely competitive and selective.

It takes many years to become an orthodontist and the educational requirements are demanding.

Only dentists who have successfully completed advanced specialty education programs may call themselves orthodontists.

     
  What causes Orthodontic problems?  
     
 

Most orthodontic problems are inherited. Examples of these genetic problems are crowding, spacing, protrusion, extra or missing teeth and some jaw growth problems.

Other malocclusions are acquired. In other words, they develop over time. They can be caused by thumb- or finger-sucking, mouth breathing, dental disease, abnormal swallowing, poor dental hygiene, the early or late loss of baby teeth, loss of permanent teeth, accidents, poor nutrition, or some medical problems.

Sometimes, an inherited malocclusion is complicated by an acquired problem. But, whatever the cause, an orthodontist is usually able to treat most conditions successfully.

     
  Why is treatment so important?  
     
 

Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. Such problems can contribute to tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. A bad bite can also cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, difficulty in chewing and/or speaking, excess stress on supporting bone and gum tissue, and possible jaw joint problems.

There is an emotional side of an unattractive smile. When you're not confident in the way you look, your self-esteem suffers. Children and adults whose malocclusions are left untreated may go through life feeling self-conscious, hiding their smiles with tight lips or a protective hand.

Finally, without treatment, many problems become worse. Orthodontic treatment to correct a problem may prove less costly than the additional dental care required to treat the more serious problems that can develop in later years.

     
  An affordable investment that really pays off.  
     
 

The cost of orthodontic treatment will depend on many factors, including the severity of the problem, its complexity and the length of treatment. Your orthodontist will be glad to discuss that cost with you before treatment begins.

Dollar for dollar, when you consider the lifetime benefits of braces, they are truly a great value.

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