What is an Orthodontist?
All Orthodontists or Orthodontic Specialists, are Dentists, but only about six (6) percent of Dentists are Orthodontists!
An ORTHODONTIST is a DENTAL SPECIALIST who works to prevent or correct misaligned teeth and jaws, which are called malocclusions or bad bites. A person may seek the services of an ORTHODONTIST for cosmetic reasons as well as health reasons. Beside the insecurity and low self esteem that dental irregularities may cause, they can also affect a person’s ability to chew and speak properly. Severely misaligned teeth and jaws can lead to snoring, sleep apena and other breathing problems.
It is estimated that more than half of the US population has misaligned or irregular teeth and jaws. The severity and types of these faulty occlusions differ in their presentations and include cross bites, open bites, over and under bites and many more. An ORTHODONTIST is also instrumental in correcting the teeth and jaws in babies born with cleft lips or cleft palates.
The techniques that an ORTHODONTIST uses depend on his or her diagnosis. Diagnoses are usually made by taking health and dental histories, x-rays, photographs and upper and lower impressions and study models to determine the specific alignment of his or her teeth. Correction methods might include braces, retainers or other special devices to realign or guide incoming teeth. In severe malocclusions, where the upper and lower jaws do not "fit" together, the orthodontist may have work with an oral surgeon to reposition (break) the jaw bones and fix the jaws together so that they are in the proper relationship to each other.
The dental problems that may cause an adult or child to require the services of an ORTHODONTIST can be the result of many factors. Hereditary dental problems (those that run in the family) are the biggest reason that someone may need to see an ORTHODONTIST. This can be because of the bone structure of the jaws, baby teeth that are lost too early or overcrowding of the teeth. Other reasons include tooth decay and accidents or injuries, all of which affect the structure of the mouth.
An ORTHODONTIST can prevent dental irregularities in children by conducting exams before all of the permanent teeth erupt. A child should ideally have his or her first visit with an ORTHODONTIST around the age of seven, especially when there is a family history of dental and/or skeletal malocclusions. The early intervention of an ORTHODONTIST takes advantage of the still growing bones of the jaw and the pending eruption of the permanent teeth. Early intervention, while not eliminating the need for braces in the future, can make impending future corrections easier and usually quicker.