Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics:

is the branch of dentistry that studies the development, diagnosis, prevention and correction of dental irregularities and malocclusions (uneven bites) in order to enhance functionality and personal appearance. An orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in detecting irregular positioning or alignment of the teeth or jaws and prescribes fixed or removable corrective appliances to achieve the proper positioning.

 

Some jaw development and alignment problems are inherited, while others are caused by an accident or trauma, or simply develop with time. For instance, thumb sucking, pressing the tongue against the teeth, and mouth breathing may lead to malocclusion.

 

Orthodontics can correct the following problems:

  • Protrusion of the upper or lower jaw
  • Receding chin
  • "Gummy smile" (excessive exposure of gum tissue above the upper teeth when smiling).
  • Excessive spacing between the teeth, or overlapping teeth.
  • Mouth that won't close properly, even at rest.
  • Elongated face.
  • Asymmetric mouth.
  • Cleft palate (congenital malformation of the palate).

Why Orthodontics?
Crooked teeth or misaligned jaws can lead to functional problems. Overlapping teeth are difficult to clean. Such problems may lead to tooth decay and gum disease, or, in extreme cases, to tooth loss. Misaligned teeth and jaws that do not fit together properly may result in inefficient chewing, excessive wear of tooth surfaces, and pain in the jaw, head, neck or face. Furthermore, the quest for a nicer appearance is another reason to seek treatment.

 

When to Begin Treatment
The American Association of Orthodontics recommends an orthodontic screening as early as age 7. However, it is never too late to begin orthodontic treatment; in fact, adults currently account for 20-25% of orthodontic clients. Unless the patient's growth is crucial to the success of a treatment, the orthodontist lets the patient choose the best time to begin treatment.

 

Depending on the treatment required, the orthodontist may prescribe braces, a retainer or another type of fixed or removable custom appliance. These appliances may be made of metal, plastic or ceramic. The length of the treatment depends on the problem needing correction. It is normal to wear an appliance for one to three years. For the treatment to be successful the patient should be willing and cooperative, and pay special attention to diet and oral hygiene.