You’ve probably heard of an orthodontist. They’re the ones who provide patients with braces to give them a perfect smile, right? Although that is part of what an orthodontist does, the field of orthodontics is complex and very important to our health. Often the issues with our teeth are more than just cosmetic. Abnormal jaw growth and misaligned teeth can cause problems as we age, leading to extreme discomfort and excessive wear of the teeth. So, what is orthodontics exactly?
The Field of Orthodontics
An orthodontist provides a specific type of dental care, which focuses on more than just the teeth. The field of orthodontics addresses issues with the mouth, teeth, gums, jaws and nerves, and although it’s not the same as dentistry, all orthodontists are in fact, dentists. Addressing the overall structure of the mouth, orthodontists ensure all of these parts operate in harmony, so patients not only have beautiful smiles, they also eat and talk properly, free from pain and discomfort.
Orthodontists, don’t only complete four years of dental schooling, they also take two to three more years of specialized training and complete an orthodontic residency. So, all orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists. Make sense?
Issues Corrected by Orthodontics
Orthodontics focuses on the alignment of the teeth and treats such issues as:
- Bite problems (overbites, underbites, crossbites)
- Crowding and spacing issues
- Abnormal jaw alignment
- Gum problems
In discovering the root of the problem, orthodontists are able to craft a treatment plan that will fix these issues and prevent other issues from arising, so patients can lead a normal life and their teeth stay as healthy as possible. Although you may feel as though the issues with your teeth aren’t affecting you now, chances are these issues will become problematic as you get older. That’s why it’s helpful to address these problems as early as possible.
How Orthodontics Fixes Teeth
So now that we know what an orthodontist does and what the field of orthodontics fixes, just how exactly do these issues get fixed? Although the first thing we tend to think about when we hear the term “orthodontics” is braces, there are actually numerous products available to correct the teeth. Expanders, retainers and removable aligners are part of the field of orthodontics now and have been proven to help address orthodontic issues, ranging from mild to severe.
The first step of the process is scheduling an appointment with an orthodontist to discover what your issue is, how severe it is and to go over some options for treatment. Every patient is unique with differing levels of severity, different issues, and a difference in opinion on the treatment plan that will work for them. Orthodontic treatment should treat whatever issues you have and blend into your lifestyle, so choosing a product and working alongside your orthodontist to design the right treatment plan is crucial. Remember, an orthodontist is there for you and their goal is for you to achieve a beautiful smile for life.