What exactly is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a special field of dentistry which involves the prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities (i.e., anything which prevents you from enjoying a healty and attractive smile). In simplest terms, Orthodontics will straighten your teeth by gradually moving the jaws and teeth into their proper positions. An Orthodontist uses corrective appliances (braces, retainers, expanders, headgear, splints, etc.) to prevent and correct the problems caused by "malocclusion".

Malocclusion literally means "bad closing" or "bad bite". That means crowded or crooked or just plain ugly teeth. If your teeth don't line up properly with your jaws in a "good bite", tooth decay and gum disease can develop. Worse yet, crooked teeth prevent proper chewing which prevents proper digestion which leads to poor health. Besides all that, malocclusion prevents an attractive smile, a universally desired sign of health and beauty.

You might have a malocclusion because you inherited a set of large teeth in a small jaw or small teeth in a large jaw. Or you might have caused a malocclusion by thumb sucking, fingernail biting or mouth breathing. An accident which damaged the teeth or the premature loss of primary or permanent teeth might have caused a malocclusion.

Before initiating any program to correct malocclusion, the Orthodontist will examine your dental and medical history as well as your teeth, jaws, joints, face and profile with X-rays and other precise measurements. After a thorough examination, the Orthodontist will explain the details of your particular bite problem, which appliances will best correct the problem and when will be the best time to start treatment, if indeed it is needed.

© 1996 John W. Day
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