Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry concerned with prevention and correction involving irregularities of the teeth. In addition to completing dental school, orthodontists must all take an additional two to three years of specialized training. Often, general dentists will refer their patients to the orthodontist if they are concerned about malocclusion, or a bad bite.
Not only are crooked or crowded teeth not very attractive, but they can also contribute to oral health problems. Because routine home care, such as brushing and flossing, is more difficult with crowded teeth, you may be at an increased risk for issues like tooth decay and gum disease. Misalignment can also lead to added stress on the chewing muscles, causing headaches, TMJ dysfunction, or neck, shoulder, and back pain. By adjusting how teeth fit together and how your jaws line up, an orthodontist can straighten teeth and correct your bite.
The only way to determine if you need orthodontic treatment is to visit an orthodontist. During an evaluation appointment, the doctor will take a full medical and dental health history, conduct an oral exam, make impressions of your teeth, and take special X-rays and photographs. With this information, your orthodontist will be able to identify the necessary treatment and complete a comprehensive plan for creating your new, improved smile.
Orthodontic treatment can utilize various appliances and therapies to shift teeth, retrain muscles, and affect jaw growth. Most people think of braces when they hear the word orthodontics, but treatment may also involve head gear, fixed spacers, splints, and palatal expanders. The severity of the issue will determine which methods your orthodontist recommends.