What Is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is an oral health specialty that deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and correction of maladjusted jaws and teeth, and crooked bite patterns. It can also address the change of adult facial structure, called dentofacial orthopedic surgery. This branch of dentistry focuses on how an individual’s teeth and bite fit his or her face and head. Orthodontics often correct shortened or over-bite teeth, reshape crooked teeth, straighten misshapen faces or make teeth visibility more pleasant. Orthodontics is concerned with the aesthetic, physiological, social, and behavioral aspects of the face, focusing on the relationship between an individual’s face and their head.


To become a dental specialist

one must complete a four-year degree from a participating university or college. At least two years of specialized study at an accredited university or college are needed to graduate with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. After graduation, orthodontists must pass General Dentistry examinations that test the knowledge of the human mouth. Then they must attend a minimum of three years of supervised training in an accredited dental school. Many orthodontists begin their careers by serving as dental assistants. The number of hours that an orthodontist spends in formal dental training varies by state.


Orthodontics involves the study of the structures

functions, and habits that affect the way teeth grow. Orthodontics also uses advanced technology to help fix jaw disorders. In addition to traditional orthodontics, such as braces, appliances, laser surgery, digital alignment systems, and appliance support systems, orthodontists have developed new ways to straighten teeth, use occlusion and direct lighting, reshape the face, apply heat to the jaw, create airtight sealants to teeth, remove plaque from the teeth, and restore bite strength. An added benefit of orthodontics is that it addresses the whole person, not just a specific tooth or set of teeth.


Traditional orthodontics has been divided into two fields

orthodontics that involves braces, appliances, or other direct appliances, and dentistry, which addresses tooth architecture, oral health, craniofacial appearance, speech disorders, health management, and periodontal disease. Orthodontists commonly work in family practice or general dentistry offices, but can also work in the confines of a hospital or surgery setting. There are numerous types of braces, each offering a different degree of straightness, which can be adjusted using devices called aligners. When braces are applied, they are made from various materials, including ceramic, plastic, metal, composite, clear plastic, and ceramic.


Full-time orthodontists must be licensed

by the state in which they practice and must complete either an associates’ degree program or a bachelor’s degree at an accredited university or college. In addition to having a high school diploma or GED, most orthodontists need to have taken at least two years of undergraduate courses in science, math, health, or biological field. For dental specialists who plan to go on to become full-time orthodontists, generally must pass a board exam to verify their training and certification. It is also necessary for these practitioners to meet continuing education requirements every two years or every four years.


Most people start orthodontics

to straighten their teeth after they’ve suffered an injury, accident, or malformation that affects one or more of their upper teeth. People with crooked jaws are more likely to develop orthodontics problems because they cannot fully close their mouths around their teeth, leaving them with an overbite, underbite, or spaced teeth. An overbite can make it difficult for a person to open their mouth wide enough to brush all of their teeth. Underbelly symptoms, such as sore jaw muscles, can also result from a poor bite.

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