Why an Orthodontist?
An Orthodontist has 2-3 years of additional education after completing dental school.
After graduating from four years of dental school (upon completing four years of college) and receiving their Doctorate in Dental Surgery degree (DDS) – Orthodontists go on to complete 2-3 more years of education – just in orthodontics – at an accredited orthodontic residency program. Only after this formal education can one be called an orthodontist. Read more about What An Orthodontist Does from the American Association of Orthodontists: What is an Orthodontist Flier.
An Orthodontist is a specialist who’s practice is devoted solely to Orthodontics.
Like medical specialists who study their specialty areas after their general medical education, orthodontists devote additional years of study to orthodontics after they graduate from dental school. And like their medical counterparts-orthodontists limit their practices solely to their specialty area.
Orthodontists have in-depth experience in orthodontic care to deliver an individualized & comprehensive treatment plan to best meet your needs. Orthodontists also devote time for continued training & education – specifically orthodontics – along with dental care and advancements in technology – to ensure that we are able to deliver the best possible treatment options & results for our patients.
There are a lot of treatment options available, from clear aligners to modern braces. An orthodontist has the specialized in-depth knowledge to identify and plan for all the variables in your mouth to provide you with your best treatment options and customize your treatment plan accordingly. Orthodontists keep abreast of the full range of orthodontic appliances, along when each one is best utilized – to provide the best possible results.
An Orthodontist understands that both function & aesthetics – creates a beautiful & sustainable result.
An orthodontist sees the aesthetic problems, along with the functional problems of an incorrect bite in all three dimensions. Our teeth are function together with the upper and lower jaws, gums and facial muscles. The goal is not only to straighten the teeth, but to make sure that all factors are taken into account, for optimal function & longevity. Orthodontists are trained to diagnose and treat the root problem of your malocclusion – to deliver a healthy, beautiful smile and a lasting result.
Common Orthodontic Problems & Solutions
- Crowding is the lack of space for all the teeth to fit normally within the jaws.
- The teeth may be rotated or displaced.
- Crowding occurs when there is disharmony in the tooth to jaw size relationship
- Or when the teeth are larger than the available space.
Crowding should be corrected because it may:
- prevent proper cleaning of all the surfaces of your teeth
- lead to dental decay, due to difficulty cleaning plaque from surfaces of teeth
- increase the chances of gum disease
- prevent proper functioning of teeth causing premature wear and attrition of surfaces
- in certain cases of severe crowding – serial extraction may be recommended for your child in Phase I treatmen, see a step-by-step visual here: Download the PDF from the AAO on Serial Extractions
- Spacing (the opposite of crowding), is an excess of space for your teeth which results in gaps between your teeth. This generally occurs when the teeth are smaller than the available space.
Spacing should be corrected because it can
- create food traps, making hygiene difficult
- result in gum problems due to plaque build up over time (gingivitis & periodontitis)
- prevent proper functioning of the teeth
- An overbite occurs when the upper front teeth protrude over the lower front teeth. Generally there is no contact between the upper and lower front teeth. Often you cannot see the lower incisors.
- Overbite is due to a disproportionate amount of eruption of front teeth or over development of the bone that supports the teeth and a front to back discrepancy in the growth of the upper or lower jaw (Class II Relationship). Overbite is also known as a deep bite.
Overbite should be corrected because it can:
- cause improper functioning of your front teeth
- result in the lower front teeth biting into the gum tissue of the upper palate leading to tissue problems over time
- unusual wear of the front teeth causing dental and periodontal problems over time
- cause jaw or joint problems (TMD)
An overjet is also known as protrusion. In this case, the lower teeth are too far behind the upper front teeth. This can be caused by an improper alignment of the molars (Class II Relationship), a skeletal imbalance of the upper and lower jaw; flared upper incisors, missing lower teeth or a combination of all the above. In addition, oral habits such as thumb sucking, finger sucking or tongue thrusting can exacerbate the condition.
Overjet should be corrected because it can:
- prevent proper functioning of the front teeth
- increase the likelihood of trauma to the protruded teeth
- lead to premature wear
The lower teeth protrude past the front teeth. An underbite is usually caused by undergrowth of the upper jaw, overgrowth of the lower jaw, or a combination of the two (Class III Relationship). Underbite can also be caused by flared upper incisors, missing lower teeth or a combination of all the above. Early correction of underbite is recommended.
An Underbite should be corrected because it can:
prevent proper functioning of the front teeth or molars which can lead to premature wear of the teeth, cause chewing or eating problems and/or cause jaw or joint problems
An openbite is an insufficient vertical overlap of the teeth. It can be caused by oral habits such as tongue thrust, digit or thumb sucking or when the jaws don’t grow evenly. Timing of treatment and correction of the habit is critical to the overall success of the therapy.
A crossbite can occur in the front and/or the sides of the mouth: One or more upper teeth bite on the inside of the lower teeth. This can occur with a single tooth or multiple teeth. Early correction of a crossbite is recommended.
Crossbite should be corrected because it can:
- cause premature wear of the teeth
- cause gum disease including bone loss
- cause asymmetrical development of the jaws
- cause dysfunctional chewing patterns
Impactions can be caused by improper positioning of the developing tooth- this can cause the tooth to fail to erupt properly inside the mouth. Impactions can also be caused by early loss of a baby tooth or by crowded teeth. See a step-by-step visual: download the PDF from the AAO on managing impacted canines here
Impacted teeth should be corrected because they can:
cause damage to the root of the adjacent teeth, leave unwanted space, cause premature wear of teeth, cause asymmetric alignment of teeth and/or lead to improper functioning of teeth
Missing teeth is the absence of a tooth or teeth that should normally be present. This can be caused by trauma or lack of development.
This problem should be corrected because it can:
- cause improper functioning of teeth
- cause premature wear of teeth
- cause asymmetric alignment of the teeth
Premature loss of primary (baby) teeth
In some cases your child’s baby teeth may be lost prematurely due to trauma, decay or another developmental or environmental influence. Depending on the stage of development your child is in, the loss of the baby teeth can cause future problems such as loss of space for the adult teeth to erupt into (leading to future crowding and malocclusion) or delayed development or impaction of the adult teeth.
In some cases, the baby teeth are retained and not lost at the appropriate time. This causes a delay in development of the adult teeth leading to in some cases a diverted abnormal eruption path or impactions. In some cases, the adult teeth are simply not present which is why the baby tooth has not been lost – your orthodontist will work with you to create a treatment plan best suited for your child in this case.