What is an Orthodontist?
In much the same way as doctors choose to specialize in areas such as cardiology and neurology, dentists can also opt to specialize. Orthodontics is a dental specialty which aims to prevent, diagnose and treat facial and dental irregularities. Many orthodontic practices are limited to dentofacial orthopedics and general orthodontics but can successfully treat patients of any age.
Orthodontists are fully qualified dentists who embark on a further three years of university-based study and gain extensive clinical experience in an orthodontic residency program. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is the regulating body for this branch of dentistry. Selecting an orthodontist who is a member of this organization adds the assurance that treatment is being administered by an individual with specialty education in oral biology and biomechanics. The AAO recommends that children should first be examined by the orthodontist around the age of seven, to ensure that jaw and tooth irregularities are not beginning to form.
What does an orthodontist do?
Orthodontists are experts in correcting misalignments of the teeth and jaw. There are many debilitating problems associated with misalignment, for example, speech defects, difficulties chewing and difficulty maintaining adequate oral hygiene.
Here is a brief overview of some of the most common issues an orthodontist can successfully treat:
- Anteroposterior deviations – Common examples of anteroposterior deviations include underbite (the lower teeth are positioned further forward than upper teeth) and overbite (the upper teeth are positioned further forward than the lower teeth). Both of these deviations can cause difficulty articulating and chewing.
- Overcrowding – Overcrowding is one of the most common problems orthodontists treat. On occasion, lack of jawbone space means adult teeth cannot erupt in alignment with existing teeth. The orthodontist can realign the teeth using some unobtrusive devices and treatments.
- Aesthetic issues – Malocclusions or a bad bite can negatively impact the shape of the face. The orthodontist can restructure and realign the jaw, lips, and teeth to create a beautiful, even smile.
What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry specializing in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of jaw, face and bite irregularities (malocclusions*). The word “orthodontics” is derived from the Greek words orthos, meaning proper or straight and odons meaning teeth.
There are many advantages to well-aligned teeth, including easier cleaning, better oral hygiene, clearer speech and a more pleasant smile. Though orthodontic treatment can be effective at any age, the American Dental Association suggests having an orthodontic assessment around the age of seven. The earlier orthodontic treatment begins, the more quickly the problem can be successfully resolved.
How does an orthodontist realign jaws and teeth?
Initially, the orthodontist conducts a thorough examination of the jaw and teeth. Panoramic X-rays and study models (bite impressions) will be taken before the orthodontist making treatment recommendations. The orthodontist will recommend the best treatment plan for the patient’s particular condition.
Here is a brief overview of some of the treatments Orthodontists may use:
- Dental braces – The combination of brackets (which are affixed to each tooth), and an archwire (which connects each bracket) are used to train the teeth into proper alignment. Dental braces can be made of metal, ceramics or clear (“invisible”) materials.
- Headgear and facemasks – These devices are used to correct a developmental problem, such as an overbite or an underbite. In addition to the dental braces, the orthodontist will design the headgear and facemask which fit around the head and attaches to the braces. This structure will further encourage the teeth and jawbone into alignment.
- Retainers – After the orthodontist has realigned the teeth using dental braces, removable devices or headgear, a retainer may then be provided to ensure that the teeth do not begin to move back toward their original positions. Retainers are worn until the underlying bone has reformed into the correct position.
- Fixed orthodontic braces – A metal or ceramic dental base is affixed to each tooth, and a dental wire is inserted through each base. The orthodontist can gradually train the teeth into proper alignment by regularly adjusting the wire. The fixed dental braces are only removed when the desired results are received.
- Removable appliances – There is a broad range of removable appliances commonly used in orthodontics, including headgear that corrects overbites, Hawley retainers that improve the position of the teeth even as the jawbone reforms, and face masks which are used to correct an underbite.
- Invisalign® – This is a newer, Invisalign® does not interfere with eating because of its removable nature, and mechanically works in the same way as the traditional metal dental braces. Not all patients are candidates for Invisalign®.
Recent years have brought about many changes within the dental industry, specifically with regards to orthodontic treatment and care. Now more than ever patients are experiencing fewer incidences of cavities and missing teeth due to the heightened awareness of fluoride use and preventative dentistry. This increasing awareness on the health and look of a patient’s smile has fueled the desire for many to seek out orthodontist not only as a medical necessity but for cosmetic reasons as well.
Whether it’s traditional braces or custom made removable appliances, Firouz Orthodontics can help you have the healthy, straight, beautiful smile you’ve been waiting for! Give us a call today and schedule your orthodontic consultation!
Firouz Orthodontics, 11645 Wilshire Blvd Suite 1060 Los Angeles, CA 90025