FAQ Text

WHAT IS ORTHODONTICS?

Orthodontics is a dental specialty that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities, or malocclusions, which means "bad bites." Orthodontists are skilled in the design, application and control of appliances used to correct malocclusions, such as braces. These appliances are designed to bring the teeth, lips and jaws into correct alignment to achieve facial balance.

WHAT IS AN ORTHODONTIST?

Orthodontists are experienced in diagnosing, preventing and treating dental and facial irregularities. To qualify, they must attend college, and enroll in a four-year graduate dental program at a dental school accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA). After completing dental school, an orthodontist must successfully complete a two to three year residency in orthodontics that has also been accredited by the ADA.

WHAT CAUSES ORTHODONTIC PROBLEMS?

In most cases, malocclusions are inherited. Some are acquired. Examples of inherited problems include crowding, extra teeth, and gaps between teeth, congenitally missing teeth, and a broad range of jaw, teeth and facial discrepancies. Acquired orthodontic problems can be caused by thumb or finger sucking, trauma, dental disease, early loss of primary or adult teeth and airway obstruction due to the adenoids and tonsils. Many of these problems affect teeth alignment, facial development and appearance.

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CHILD NEEDS ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT?

It can be difficult for you to determine that your child needs treatment. Many orthodontic problems can be present even though the front teeth appear straight. Also, some problems may appear to be complex, but they may eventually resolve on their own. Your general dentist can examine your child and determine if orthodontic treatment is needed, but an orthodontist is the best resource.

WHAT ARE SOME EARLY SIGNS OF ORTHODONTIC PROBLEMS?

The following signs may indicate that orthodontic treatment is necessary: gaps between the teeth, teeth appear crowded or overlap or the top front teeth cover more than 50% of the bottom teeth. If you notice shifting of the jaw or misalignment, your child may have a skeletal problem that may require early treatment to correct.

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