Like any medical field of study, Dental and Oral Medicine has several branches and one of these is called orthodontics. If you or someone you know has ever had their teeth straightened, then you’re likely familiar with what an orthodontist does. For a deeper understanding, here are four facts about them.
#1 An Orthodontist Is a Specialist
After a four-year bachelor’s degree, it usually takes a student another four years to complete dental school. To specialize in orthodontics, a dentist then studies for up to four more years for a total of over ten years. While both dentists and orthodontists can take care of your general oral health, only an orthodontist is qualified to treat oral misalignment and will typically limit their practice to their specialization.
#2 An Orthodontist Can Straighten Your Teeth
As hinted above, an orthodontist can treat your crooked teeth and reshape them over time into beautifully straight pearly whites. The most popular appliance they use to do this is called braces, which have gone through many updates over time. One of the latest versions is called the Damon brackets. The advantage of using these custom-made brackets is that they are easier to install and more comfortable to use. They also require less maintenance than typical braces, which means fewer visits to the orthodontist for you.
#3 An Orthodontist Can Fix Bite Issues
There are many types of misaligned bites, and they include underbite, overbite, and crossbite. To keep it brief, an underbite is when the lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper jaw, an overbite is when the upper jaw extends past the lower jaw, and a crossbite is when the jaw is so narrow that it crowds and misaligns teeth. Most of these conditions are due to genetics and can result in jaw pain, speech problems, and headaches.
Thankfully, an orthodontist can treat these problems with a variety of methods like Invisalign, braces, splints, and other appliances. While most of these treatments are not invasive, sometimes surgery can be the only option. Here, finding an orthodontist you can trust with such an important procedure is advisable. Usually, the best ones are highly qualified, carry years of experience, love their work, and use the latest technology.
#4 An Orthodontist Can Expand Your Jaw
Some children’s jaws aren’t big enough to handle permanent teeth. Because of this lack of room, their adult set of teeth can crowd and misalign.
Depending on the severity, a misaligned jaw can result in poor muscle support for your face, meaning painful chewing and swallowing. Because of this, your facial muscles can get overworked, giving you headaches and earaches. Unfortunately, the pain isn’t always limited to your head. It can spread to your neck, arms, shoulders, and even your back.
To treat this early in children, an orthodontist can either remove teeth or simply make room for more by expanding the jaw. Both the upper and lower jaw can be expanded through devices that gradually stretch the soft cartilage. There is some discomfort initially, but as with many of the procedures performed by an orthodontist, the process is beneficial in the long run.
These are only a few of the skills an orthodontist has developed. Now that you’ve learned more, you can better appreciate their hard work the next time you are at your dental hygienist’s office.