What is Orthodontics?
When you have a malocclusion, that means your teeth, lips and/or jaws don't line up the way they should. As a result, your teeth may be crooked, your bite may not work correctly and your jaws may look and feel unbalanced.
To fix bad bites, orthodontists (dentists who are specially trained) use braces and other corrective procedures, including materials often called "appliances," to achieve tooth and jaw alignment. This correction of the teeth and their supportive structures makes for a healthy, attractive smile.
What is an orthodontist?
It takes many years to become an orthodontist and the educational requirements are demanding. An orthodontist must complete college requirements before starting a three- to five-year graduate program at a dental school accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA). After dental school, at least two or three academic years of advanced specialty education in an ADA-accredited orthodontic program are required to be an orthodontist. The program includes advanced education in biomedical, behavioral and basic sciences. While in residency the doctor learns the complex skills required to manage tooth movement (orthodontics) and guide facial development (dentofacial orthopedics). Only dentists who have successfully completed these advanced specialty education programs may call themselves orthodontists.
What causes orthodontic problems?
Other malocclusions are acquired. In other words, they develop over time. They can be caused by thumb or finger-sucking, mouth breathing, dental disease, abnormal swallowing, poor dental hygiene, the early or late loss of baby (primary) teeth, loss of permanent teeth, accidents, poor nutrition, or some medical problems.
Sometimes, an inherited malocclusion is complicated by an acquired problem. But, whatever the cause, an orthodontist is usually able to treat most conditions successfully.
Why is treatment so important?
Then there's the emotional side of an unattractive smile. When you're not confident in the way you look, your self-esteem suffers. Children and adults whose malocclusions are left untreated may go through life feeling self-conscious, hiding their smiles with tight lips or a protective hand.
Finally, without treatment, many problems become worse. Orthodontic treatment to correct a problem may prove less costly than the additional dental care required to treat the more serious problems that can develop in later years.
Long-Term Benefits to Orthodontics?
Significant dental and health differences are evident between orthodontically treated patients and non-orthodontically treated patients that go far beyond aesthetics.
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