What is an orthodontist?
Simply put, an orthodontist is someone who specialises in preventing, diagnosing and treating dental irregularities. Such examples may be overbites, underbites, crossbites, spacing and crowding of the teeth are common reasons you will require orthodontic intervention. Dentistry, on the other hand, is a fairly broad medical speciality, mainly dealing with the jaw, gum, nerves and of course, teeth.
In the same way that doctors can choose to specialise in certain fields (such as radiology and cardiology), dentists can also specialise and orthodontics is one of the most common choices.
Are orthodontists still dentists?
Yes. In order for someone to become an orthodontist, they must first become a dentist. After this, they will study for a further three years and gain clinical experience within an orthodontic residency programme.
What do orthodontists do?
As we briefly described before, orthodontists are specialists in correcting abnormalities of the jaw and teeth. Orthodontists focus on correcting, not necessarily enhancing – and correcting such misalignments will help patients suffering from various debilitating problems achieve positive oral hygiene.
Common problems that orthodontists will face
Orthodontists encounter tooth and jaw-related issues every day, the most common are listed below:
Underbite and overbite (anteroposterior deviations)
An underbite, in most cases, is usually due to genetics. Although, there are cases where children develop underbites due to a prolonged use of a pacifier, excessive thumb sucking or generally bad chewing habits. An underbite is where the patient’s lower teeth fall in front of the upper teeth when the jaw is closed. It’s essential that underbites are treated immediately, as the longer they are left untreated, the worse they will become.
Symptoms are clearly noticeable, through appearance, difficulty chewing, and speech may also be affected. Headaches may also develop if no treatment is sought, this is because the joint near the temples which connected the lower jaw to the rest of your head will become inflamed, causing discomfort.
An overbite, on the other hand is where the top teeth fall in front of the lower teeth. Typically, it’s good to have an overbite that’s around 3-5mm between the teeth, anything over 5mm is considered abnormal and therefore and overbite. Similar to underbites, overbites are usually related to genetics, however thumb-sucking and excessive pacifier use, again, will only make matters worse.
Overbites share many symptom similarities with underbites, in that they’re visually noticeable. Chewing becomes problematic and headaches will develop for the same reasons as underbites.
This is where teeth tilt towards the cheek or tongue (in contrast to the tooth above it). Crossbites are generally hereditary but can again be caused by poor eating and chewing habits, alongside excessive pacifier use. Crossbite issues put the jawbone under stress when eating, which can cause discomfort, especially when eating particularly chewy foods.
This occurs when adult teeth cannot erupt in proper alignment with existing teeth. Instead, they erupt out of formation and sometimes shift existing teeth out of position. This is one of the most popular issues orthodontists have to face. However, realigning overcrowded teeth can be achieved through a number of standard treatments.
Abnormal teeth alignment can affect the shape of a patient’s face, specifically the jaw. Once an orthodontist has restructured the patient’s jaw, it’s not uncommon for his or her’s appearance to change, resulting in healthy, even smile.
How does realigning teeth work?
Before the application of braces or any wiring takes place, orthodontists will take x-rays, bite impressions and a general examination to identify what needs to be done. Each case is different and unique to the patient, so your orthodontist will recommend a treatment plan that’s both realistic and tailored towards your individual needs and expectation.
The most common treatments for such needs are of course, braces. Below are the preferred treatment options used by orthodontists across the globe:
Invisalign has grown in popularity over the years, mainly because of its low invasiveness and its ‘invisible’ aligners. Invisalign braces are made up of two clear aligners that are placed on your lower and upper teeth. They are removable and regular cleaning is required. Additionally, you cannot eat wearing these braces. Invisalign is a popular option among young teens, mainly due to their discreteness and low invasiveness.
Fixed braces have become a mainstay in orthodontic practices across the world thanks to their exceptional success rates. Fixed braces offer the highest degree of control in comparison to other braces options. They are of course, less discrete than Invisalign, as they’re non-removable and they’re not transparent. Additionally, the average time before they’re removed is 2 years.
However, cleaning them is simple (just brushing and flossing) and only one check-up a month is required to ensure your teeth are developing healthily.
Commonly referred to as a combination of fixed and Invisalign braces, lingual braces offer a discrete and highly effective treatment. These braces are fixed to the back of your teeth, meaning they are not immediately visible to the naked eye. Lingual braces offer an exceptional degree of control and remain a popular braces choice.
While almost all dental issues can be treated, it’s important to keep on top of your oral hygiene to ensure your teeth remain healthy. It is strongly recommended that everyone visits their dentist once a year, because while dentists will be able to treat the vast majority of issues but neglecting to visit a dentist (or orthodontist, depending on the issue) as soon as you notice the issue could result in continued discomfort and an expensive bill. For more information on how we can help, head over to our Contact Page or call us on 01273 203514.