The word “orthodontics” comes from two Greek words: “orthos,” meaning correct or straight, and “odons,” meaning teeth. The field of orthodontics deals explicitly with preventing, diagnosing, and treating misaligned teeth and irregular jaw issues.
Orthodontics is a specialized branch of dentistry. All orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists. Orthodontists undergo 3-5 additional years of specialized training after they complete their dental degree.
What Does an Orthodontist Do?
When orthodontic treatment is applied, chewing and speech functions can improve. Additionally, teeth may be better protected from damage and decay. Furthermore, an aesthetically pleasing look and smile can be restored.
Orthodontists use techniques that aim to achieve the following:
- Fix an improper bite
- Close gaps between the teeth
- Straighten crooked or protruded teeth
- Align the tips of the teeth
- Improve chewing ability
- Correct speech impediments or lisps
- Promote the long-term health of gums and teeth
- Prevent long-term trauma or too much wear of the teeth
- Restore a pleasing appearance
Which Treatments Do Orthodontists Use?
Orthodontic treatment employs a variety of dental medical devices, such as wires, headgear, and plates, including:.
Braces are an orthodontic appliance used to guide the teeth and bite into a corrected position. They are brackets made of diverse materials attached to the teeth with a special cement bonding glue. An archwire is laid into and across all of the brackets. The archwire may be held in place with tiny rubber bands. This combination of devices produces forces on the teeth which move them in controlled amounts and in a specific direction.
Elastics are rubber bands that address the bite and the way the teeth are positioned within the jaws. They are often used during the bite alignment phase of orthodontic treatment.
Retainers maintain the new alignment of teeth after braces, oral surgery, or any method of realigning teeth. Since they prevent teeth from naturally shifting, they can be used long term.
Space maintainers keep the space created by a lost baby tooth open until the permanent tooth is ready to come in. This ensures that the permanent teeth coming in on either side of the empty space don’t drift into the area that was reserved for the new permanent tooth.
Plates and corrective appliances are often used in orthodontic treatment for a variety of reasons. They can be used to produce simple tooth movements or as part of a more comprehensive protocol that improves the alignment of the jaws.
Palatal expanders are devices designed to widen the arch of the upper jaw. They consist of a plastic plate with screws that applies outward pressure, expanding the area in the roof of the mouth.
Headgear. A metal wire or bow in front of the face is attached by a strap to the back of the head. These are often used to slow upper jaw growth and keep the back teeth in position while the front ones are pulled back.
Lip and cheek bumpers are custom-made appliances which relieve the pressure of cheeks or lips on the teeth.
What Can An Orthodontist Do For Me?
Orthodontic services are helpful for adults–not just children and teens. An orthodontist has the specialized training to devise a treatment plan that aligns the bite and straightens the teeth. Your orthodontic professional should be able to help you optimize long term dental health and take steps toward restoring a pleasing look.
Reach out to an orthodontist San Clemente, CA trusts with questions or to schedule an appointment. Orthodontic treatment may just be the magic ticket to achieving the smile of your dreams!
Thank you to our friends and contributors at John Redmond Orthodontics for their insight into orthodontics.