Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that corrects teeth and jaws that are positioned improperly. A specialist in this field is called an orthodontist. Orthodontists receive two or more years of education beyond their years in dental school.
If you’re feeling self-conscious and concerned about crooked or protruding teeth, you’re not alone. Not everyone has naturally perfect alignment, but thanks to orthodontics, you can have just that. Orthodontic treatment will straighten the teeth or move them into a better position. This can improve their appearance and the way the teeth bite together, while also making them easier to clean.
Based on diagnostic tools that include a full medical and dental health history, a clinical exam, plaster models of your teeth, and special X-rays and photographs, an orthodontist or dentist can decide whether orthodontics are recommended, and develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.
Orthodontic misalignments, called malocclusions, can indicate a number of different conditions. Inherited malocclusions include jaw growth problems, congenitally missing teeth, extra teeth, crowded or protruded teeth, and spacing problems. However, the premature loss of baby teeth, retention of baby teeth, thumb- or finger-sucking, accidents and certain types of dental disease can also result in a need for orthodontic treatment.
The best time to see your orthodontist is generally during childhood, but adults can have orthodontic treatment too – and more and more are doing so.
Age is less important than having the right number of teeth. In children, it may be necessary to wait for enough teeth to come through before starting treatment.
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