A. Orthodontic Dentistry or Orthodontics is described by the American Association of Orthodontics as the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
A. An orthodontist is a dentist who has undergone specialized orthodontic training to diagnose, prevent, and treat dental and facial irregularities in patients.
Within the U.S., orthodontists are required to complete a two- to three-year advanced residency program in orthodontics following the completion of their four-year graduate dental program. Each of these programs must be accredited by the American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation.
A. Most problems are inherited, including tooth size and jaw size. These orthodontic problems may lead to crowding of teeth or spacing of teeth.
Overbites, underbites, extra or missing teeth, and irregularities of the jaws, teeth and face also are inherited.
Other orthodontic problems can be caused by accidents, pacifier or thumb sucking, dental disease, or the premature loss of either the primary or permanent teeth.
A. A number of childhood habits can lead to orthodontic problems, such as thumb or finger sucking, sucking on a pacifier, sucking on a lip, mouth breathing (often caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids), fingernail biting, and "tongue thrust."
A. The orthodontic dentist will advise the parent as to when to schedule an evaluation. It generally will be when the child is between the ages of seven and ten.
An early consultation is advised to identify any potential problems that require treatment. Delaying treatment can multiply some orthodontic problems.
Between the ages of 8 and 12, jaws are still growing; after that, the jawbones begin to harden and it may be more difficult to correct certain conditions.