Intro to Orthodontics
The word “orthodontics” is derived from two Greek words, “orthos” meaning straight or correct and “dons” meaning tooth. A “malocclusion” may be defined as any deviation of the teeth and jaws and resulting “crooked” teeth. An orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in straightening teeth (correcting malocclusion). He is concerned with the biological and mechanical aspects of preventing and correcting misplaced teeth and incorrectly related jaws. In addition to four years of Dental School, an orthodontist undergoes 2 to 3 additional years in a Postgraduate Residency at an accredited University program.
When to start orthodontic treatment depends entirely on the individual case. Some problems may indicate treatment as early as six years of age, whereas others may not start until thirteen or fourteen. Each individual has their own rate and pattern of dental development, which may not correspond exactly to their chronological age. Adults especially appreciate the benefits of a beautiful smile, and 1 out of 5 orthodontic patients are over 21 years of age. An orthodontic consultation is needed to determine treatment timing.
Treatment time ranges from three months to three years, depending on the growth of the patient’s mouth and face, and the severity of the problem. Patients grow at different rates and will respond variously to orthodontic treatment, so the time to complete your treatment may differ from the original estimate. The importance of cooperation cannot be overemphasized. Successful orthodontic treatment depends about fifty percent on the orthodontist, and fifty percent on the patient. If orthodontic appliances and elastics are not worn according to instructions, or if oral hygiene is not maintained, or if appliances are regularly abused or broken, chances are likely that treatment may fail altogether. The patient, the parent, and the orthodontist must work as a team if the goal is to be obtained.
You will be instructed in brushing techniques (oral hygiene), informed what to eat and not eat (diet restrictions), encouraged to wear a mouthguard while playing contact sports, and reminded of the importance of keeping your regular appointments. We encourage you to ask questions if you are unsure about anything during your treatment. It is important that because we see you only for your orthodontic care, you must keep seeing your dentist for your regular checkups.