Orthodontics is a dental specialty that is the study and treatment of improper bites possibly resulting from tooth irregularity, disproportionate jaw relationships or both. Improperly aligned teeth and jaws are called a malocclusion and often lead to a host of painful dental disorders. The type of dentist that specializes in orthodontics is orthodontists. Orthodontists can protect your bite, maximize your teeth’s effectiveness in performing their functions and create a well aligned smile. Orthodontists are able to do this through numerous methods. In addition, they are able to guide jaw growth, lower risk of trauma to protruded front teeth, correct harmful oral habits, improve the way lips meet, and improve appearance resulting in improved self-esteem. Orthodontic treatment can rejuvenate the facial appearance through reshaping the jaw, neck and lips. These different enhancements place orthodontic treatment in the same category as cosmetic surgery.
With all of the technological advancements, there has been a growing trend for adults to receive orthodontic treatment. According to the American Dental Association, nearly 30% of orthodontic patients in the US are adults. There is no longer the preconceived notion that orthodontic treatment is strictly for kids who need to fit braces for their teeth. More adults are becoming increasingly fashion conscious and paying more attention to their appearance. Adults are requesting orthodontic treatment to create the “well-aligned smile”. An improved smile creates improved self-confidence for people.
A referral will be made by the dentist if orthodontic treatment is requested. During the orthodontic visit, an evaluation is made to identify an individualized treatment plan. Typically, before the treatment plan is developed the orthodontist will need to obtain the following:
- Oral, facial and function evaluation
- Intraoral and facial photographs
- Panoramic and cephalometric x-rays
- Impressions for models of the teeth and bite
The results from the different assessment methods and tests performed will result in a treatment plan developed by the orthodontist. The orthodontist will discuss all of the orthodontic treatment alternatives that will be best suited for the individual.