When we talk about healthcare, we usually think of general physicians or specialists like cardiologists, dermatologists, and so on. However, there is a crucial specialty that deals with the alignment of teeth and jaws: orthodontics. The expert in this field is an orthodontist, a professional who helps people achieve beautiful, healthy, and functional smiles. In this article, we will delve into the world of orthodontics, and discuss the role of an orthodontist, their qualifications, and the various treatments they offer.
What is an Orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a specialized dentist who is trained to diagnose, prevent, and correct misaligned teeth and jaws. They undergo additional education and training beyond dental school to gain expertise in orthodontics. Orthodontists are concerned with the proper alignment of teeth and jaws to improve a person’s bite, oral health, and aesthetics. They use various techniques and appliances to move teeth into the correct position, such as braces, clear aligners, headgear, and retainers.
Qualifications of an Orthodontist
To become an orthodontist, one needs to complete a four-year dental program and then enroll in a two to three-year residency program in orthodontics. During this time, they receive specialized training in orthodontic diagnosis, treatment planning, and appliance techniques. After completing the residency, they are required to pass a specialty exam to become certified by the American Board of Orthodontics. This certification ensures that the orthodontist is well-versed in the latest techniques and practices of orthodontics.
Treatments Offered by an Orthodontist
Orthodontists offer various treatments to correct malocclusions, which are misaligned teeth and jaws. These treatments are designed to improve a person’s bite, oral health, and appearance. Some of the common treatments offered by orthodontists are:
Braces are the most common orthodontic appliance used to correct teeth and jaw misalignments. They consist of brackets, wires, and bands that are attached to the teeth and adjusted periodically by the orthodontist. Braces can correct various problems, such as overcrowding, gaps, overbite, underbite, and crossbite.
2. Clear Aligners
Clear aligners are a popular alternative to traditional braces. They are clear plastic trays that fit over the teeth and are virtually invisible. Clear aligners are removable, making it easy to clean teeth and eat. They can correct mild to moderate malocclusions and require regular changes to new aligners to maintain progress.
Headgear is a type of appliance used to correct severe malocclusions. It consists of a metal wire that is attached to the braces and a strap that goes around the head. Headgear is worn at night to apply pressure to the teeth and jaw and help them move into the correct position.
Retainers are appliances used to maintain the teeth in their correct position after braces or clear aligners have been removed. They are typically worn at night and are custom-made to fit the shape of the patient’s teeth.
When to See an Orthodontist
It is recommended to see an orthodontist at an early age, around seven years old, to detect any orthodontic problems that may require treatment. However, orthodontic treatment can be done at any age, and it’s never too late to seek treatment. Some signs that you may need to see an orthodontist are:
- Crooked or crowded teeth
- Overbite or underbite
- Difficulty chewing or biting
- Speech problems
- Mouth breathing
- Thumb or finger-sucking habits
The Orthodontic Treatment Process
When you visit an orthodontist for the first time, they will conduct a thorough examination of your teeth, jaws, and mouth. They may also take X-rays and impressions of your teeth to create a treatment plan. The treatment plan will include the type of appliance to be used, the duration of treatment, and the expected outcome.
During treatment, you will need to visit the orthodontist periodically to have your braces or aligners adjusted. They will also monitor your progress and make any necessary changes to the treatment plan. Once the treatment is complete, you will be given retainers to wear to maintain the alignment of your teeth.
The Benefits of Orthodontic Treatment
Orthodontic treatment offers many benefits, such as:
- Improved oral health: Properly aligned teeth are easier to clean, reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
- Better bite: Correcting malocclusions improves the way your teeth fit together, reducing stress on your jaw and muscles.
- Enhanced appearance: A beautiful smile can boost your self-confidence and improve your overall appearance.
Orthodontics is a specialized field of dentistry that focuses on the alignment of teeth and jaws. Orthodontists are trained professionals who use various techniques and appliances to correct malocclusions and improve oral health and aesthetics. If you or a loved one has crooked or misaligned teeth, it’s never too late to seek treatment from an orthodontist. With their expertise, you can achieve a beautiful, healthy, and functional smile.
- Is orthodontic treatment painful?
Orthodontic treatment may cause some discomfort initially, but it is usually mild and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers.
- How long does orthodontic treatment take?
The duration of orthodontic treatment depends on the severity of the malocclusion and the type of appliance used. It can take anywhere from six months to two years or more.
- Can adults get orthodontic treatment?
Yes, orthodontic treatment can be done at any age, and many adults choose to get braces or clear aligners to improve their smile and oral health.
- How often do I need to see the orthodontist during treatment?
You will need to visit the orthodontist periodically to have your braces or aligners adjusted. The frequency of visits depends on the type of appliance used and the treatment plan.
- How much does orthodontic treatment cost?
The cost of orthodontic treatment varies depending on the type of appliance used and the duration of treatment. It is best to consult with an orthodontist to get an estimate of the cost of treatment.
If you’re looking for a dentist in Edson, look no further than Yellowhead Dental Centre. Our team of experienced and knowledgeable dentists can provide you with a customized treatment plan to address your specific needs and help you achieve a beautiful, healthy smile. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards a confident, happy smile. Don’t wait, call us now!