What is an Orthodontist?
In the United States the American Dental Association, or ADA, recognizes nine specialties in the Dental Sciences. They are orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics; periodontics; prosthodontics; pediatric dentistry; oral and maxillofacial surgery; oral and maxillofacial pathology; endodontics; public health dentistry; and oral and maxillofacial radiology. The foundation, or dental sciences, is the science of studying, researching, diagnosis’s and treating all issues associated with your oral cavity. This includes your teeth, your gums, all soft tissue, your jawbones, and even some facial problems because of your mouth. Through extended educational time each specialty branch brings into focus an extremely specific area of oral treatment.
The Additional Education
After four years of undergraduate study a candidate continues by entering the graduate school of the dental sciences and then studies four more years to achieve their DDS, the Doctor of Dental Sciences degree. At this point they are qualified to practice general, family dentistry. If a specified discipline is desired another two years of education is required to achieve the focus necessary to practice as a specialist. This means an additional 4,800 hours of orthodontic training. Of these specialties, an orthodontist represents about 6% of all practicing dentists. The branch of orthodontics specializes in misaligned teeth, crowded teeth, and an overbite or an underbite. The orthodontist helps you by aligning your teeth, improving your bite, and fitting you with corrective braces or a similar appliance. The orthodontist can also help you with TMJ or TMD disorders, jaw issues or even possible extractions. Another way to summarize is that an orthodontist specializes in correcting your bite, an occlusion, and the natural desired straightness of your teeth.
The Common Orthodontic Problems
The following is a list of common issues addressed by an orthodontist are:
- Crowding- When there is just not enough room or too many teeth for the arch to support.
- Misaligned teeth- The most common issue addressed by the orthodontist, that of crooked or not straight teeth.
- Spacing- Gaps between the teeth as a result a missing tooth or teeth that just do not fill up the mouth.
- Overbite- The front teeth lie too far forward, sticking out over the lower teeth.
- Underbite- The lower teeth are too far forward giving the patient a bulldog look.
- Crossbite- The upper teeth do not come down slightly in front of the lower teeth.
- Open bite- A space remains between the biting surfaces of the front teeth when the back molars come together.
- Misplaced midline- When the center of the upper teeth does not line up with the center of the lower teeth.
Common Orthodontic Treatments
To address any of these orthodontic issues the most common treatments will include different appliances, both fixed and removable. These various appliances all help move teeth, will retrain your muscles, and will change the growth of your jaw. They all work by simply applying gentle pressure on your teeth or jaws. The severity of your problem will dictate which treatment might be best for you.
Braces, which is the most common appliance used in orthodontics, are now available in different formats. You can choose the traditional, metal braces, mounted on the outside of your teeth or you can have those bands and wires mounted on the inside of the teeth, so they are not as visible. Both options are now available in a ceramic format which are even less visible. Finally, the latest method that is growing in popularity is Invisalign. These clear, plastic trays created by a CAD/CAM system are designed to be worn no less than 22 hours a day for two weeks and then replaced with the next tray. These trays, just like the traditional braces, simply apply gentle pressure to move the teeth. Of course, these trays are clear and removable.
Your family dentist will have a solid relationship with a trusted orthodontist in your market. If you are diagnosed with an orthodontic problem, they will refer you to this orthodontist. Hopefully, you will have a relationship with your dentist for your lifetime. Your new relationship with your orthodontist will be focused on your orthodontic treatment and the regular follow-ups to monitor the successful results of your treatment.
The health industry strongly suggests that everyone brushes their teeth twice daily for two quality minutes each time. You should also compliment that good habit with flossing at least once a day. These simple at home oral health care efforts then should be in addition to dental office exams twice a year. Your dentist or orthodontist will review your efforts and continue to build a history of your oral care. Professional teeth cleaning adds to your efforts of removing damaging plaque and to always continue with a deliberate preventative approach.
Your orthodontist understands all of these oral hygiene issues and embraces your oral health and the contributions a healthy smile has on your self-confidence and your self-esteem. Your orthodontist will be a valuable addition to your oral health team.
How Does Orthodontic Treatment Work?
Orthodontics is a specialty division of the dental sciences. To grasp how orthodontic treatments work we will start with general dentistry and then flow into the specific problems and the treatments that would need orthodontic treatment. Dentistry, or the dental sciences, is the part of medicine that studies and focuses on any and all conditions related to your oral cavity. Dentistry diagnosis’s will provide prevention and treatments for those diseases, disorders and any conditions associated with your teeth, gums, and all soft tissues of the mouth.
Like any medical doctor, the education necessary is extensive. The candidate must begin with four years of undergraduate studies. Then, upon entering dental college, they will dedicate yet another four years to studying and training regarding issues and conditions with your oral health. At completion they will earn a Doctor of Dental Sciences degree and can begin practicing general dentistry. This dentist is your family dental practice that have an overall, general understanding of dentistry. If the candidate wishes to extend their studies into a specialty it requires another two years to accomplish that goal. There are nine recognized specialties or branches with orthodontics representing around 6% of practicing specialists. An Orthodontist is trained to diagnose and treat issues and problems with your teeth, gums and mouth that relate to proper alignment. They focus primarily on the teeth and jaw alignment making sure they are set properly. A short list of common issues that orthodontic treatment can correct are:
- Crowded Teeth
- Misaligned Teeth
- Spacing, or gaps called Diastema
- An Overbite, an Underbite, an Open Bite, or a Cross bite
- Issues with your jaw such as TMJ
How does Orthodontic Treatment work?
Most of the issues listed can be addressed and corrected with a form of an appliance, such a braces or clear aligners. The teeth, all or specific, are gently moved by a controlled force or an extended period of time. This effort takes time because below the surface of your gums your teeth are held in place by many ligaments and the movement of the teeth includes the rebuilding of bone tissue.
The types of appliances most commonly used
The orthodontist will evaluate your situation and determine the best type of appliance that will work for you. The first option available is the traditional metal braces. A metal bracket is adhered to each tooth and then a flexible arch wire is attached to each band or bracket. This arch wire will deliver the necessary tension to push or pull the teeth into their desired position. Your next option is to take the brackets and the wire and move it to the backside of the teeth, or the inside facing your tongue, so they are harder to see. This method is called lingual braces. A third option is to have the brackets made from a tooth-colored ceramic, so they are less visible to see. Finally, a recent option developed by modern day technology is one called Invisalign. This method is the use of clear plastic trays. These sets of trays are designed by a CAD/CAM system, digitally starting where your teeth are today and then programming and projecting slight movements for the desired results. Every two weeks the trays are replaces with the next set of trays designed to continue to push the teeth. These trays are removable but must be worn 22 hours a day to achieve their results and they are difficult to see.
How do these appliances actually move the teeth?
All these orthodontic appliances used work by constantly applying a pushing or pulling pressure on your teeth, slowly encouraging your teeth to move into the desired position. It is important to grasp that as you look at yourself in the mirror you are only seeing the top crown of each tooth. Under your gumline the roots of each tooth are protected by tissue called a periodontal membrane. The braces not only encourage the crown of the tooth and the roots called alveolar bones to move they also put pressure on these soft tissues as well. This membrane, including all supporting ligaments, will literally stretch out then allowing the tooth to move. The process is actually very much like bone remodeling. The movement results ending up being a good thing as it strengthens the tooth. This gentle pressure applied results in new types of cells which then improves bone density.
The benefits of Orthodontic Treatment
First, there are the obvious benefits of having your teeth aligned properly. This can also lengthen the life expectancy of the teeth involved as well as reducing and eliminating discomfort or pain. The perception of a healthy smile is foundational for your personality, your self-confidence, and your self-esteem. Talk with your family dentist and ask if any orthodontic treatment can improve your oral health.
Choosing an Orthodontist
An orthodontist is a dentist who has chosen to extend his/her studies and training in the Dental Sciences to specialize in orthodontic treatment. A brief view is simply the proper alignment of your teeth and jaws. They also have training to assist in dentofacial orthopedics, which is the development of your face and jaws. An orthodontist will specialize in correcting your bite, an occlusion, and the desired natural straightness of your teeth. Orthodontists are often credited with the creation of beautiful smiles across all patients of all ages, children, young adults, and mature adults.
The orthodontist will help you by aligning your crooked teeth, improving your overbite, or fitting you with corrective braces or a similar appliance. The orthodontist can also help you with any TMJ or TMD disorders, and related jaw issues.
Consider a visual of a tree. The Dental Sciences will be the trunk, the specialties then are the branches. In the US, the American Dental Association recognizes nine specialties in the Dental Sciences. They are orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics; periodontics; endodontics; pediatric dentistry; prosthodontics; oral and maxillofacial surgery; oral and maxillofacial pathology; oral and maxillofacial radiology and public health dentistry. The base, or general dental sciences, is the general practice of studying, training, diagnosis’s and treating of any issues associated with your oral cavity. This includes your teeth, your gums, your jawbones, all soft tissue, and even facial circumstances because of misalignment from your mouth. Through the extended education the specialty branches bring into focus a specific area of treatment.
A Doctor in Dental Sciences will begin with four years of undergraduate studies then another four years in the dental college. After that degree is earned, a specialist such as an orthodontist will study an additional two years focusing on orthodontic treatment.
Choosing Your Orthodontist
Most often what happens is your orthodontist is a trusted referral based on your evaluation or consultation with your general family dentist. Even if that is the case you can still exercise several of the following suggestions:
- Think about a consultation from more than one orthodontist- No different than buying a car or hiring a painter, consider your options. Orthodontists may have different treatment styles. You can compare their suggestions, the length of time involved and the cost. Compare their chairside manner and is their staff friendly and helpful.
- Consider their education- Once you have a list, either referrals or self-guided, do your research. Where did they attend school for their education and what kind of continuing education do, they participate in. Make sure they are indeed a licensed member of the American Association of Orthodontists and that they are up to date on the recent and most effective clinical treatments.
- Ask questions at your consultation- Simply research your orthodontic problem before your consultation so you are prepared to ask questions. The orthodontist will actually appreciate your embracing the issue and suggested solution.
- Some additional considerations- Will the orthodontist oversee your treatment or an assistant? Think about the office location and your travel. What are their office hours in comparison to your daily schedule? Will they accept your insurance plan, and will they assist with submissions?
If you obviously have crooked teeth you certainly can skip an evaluation by your family dentist and seek out an orthodontist on your own. Pay close attention to their treatment suggestions and have the potential office also review your insurance coverage. Not every orthodontic treatment is covered because some insurance plans may consider an orthodontist a specialist.
Common Orthodontic Treatments
The American Association of Orthodontists strongly recommends that you take your child in for an orthodontic evaluation no later than the age of 7. The orthodontist will be able to spot subtle problems with the growth of their jaw and emerging teeth that your family dentist might miss.
The most common orthodontic treatment that we all are all familiar with is that of wearing corrective braces. These appliances can correct crooked teeth, correct spacing gaps, fix overbites, underbites, cross bites and all jaw alignment issues. The original traditional braces are metal brackets affixed to the teeth with an arch wire fastened to those brackets. The tension adjustments in the arch wire creates a gently pushing or pulling of the teeth to move to the desired correction. Braces can now be mounted on the inside of the teeth, or lingual side, to reduce visibility. The metal can also be replaced with natural colored ceramic to do the same. The latest in orthodontic treatment methods is the introduction of Invisalign. This CAD/CAM generated technological solution creates clear plastic trays. They are to be worn 22 hours a day and then replaced ever two weeks with the next tray. These precise digitally designed trays introduce subtle, gent pushing and pulling as well.
Your orthodontist is a particularly important member of your oral health team. They are focused on your alignment issues for medical reasons but also tuned into the health of your smile and the many benefits it brings to your overall quality of life.
Benefits of Orthodontics
The primary benefit is really quite visual, but the cascading list of benefits of having orthodontic treatment goes beyond just what you see. Let’s begin by identifying what the practice of orthodontics is, the different treatments they specialize in, and then address the many benefits of those treatments from the that visual to your oral health to even your mental health.
The American Dental Association in the United States recognizes nine specialties in dentistry: orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics; periodontics; pediatric dentistry; prosthodontics; endodontics; oral and maxillofacial surgery; oral and maxillofacial pathology; public health dentistry; and oral and maxillofacial radiology. To earn a degree in a specialty a candidate must first complete four years of undergraduate studies, followed by four year of the dental sciences earning a Doctor in Dental Sciences, then another two years of their chosen specialty.
An orthodontist specializes and focuses on dealing with the initial diagnosis, the prevention, and the correction of any mispositioned teeth or jaws and the misaligned bite patterns that can be the result of those problems.
Common Orthodontic Problems
A brief list of the most common orthodontic problems is:
Crooked Teeth- Teeth come in crooked because there may not have been enough room.
Extra Space between Teeth- Called Diastema this is a gap between teeth. Sometimes hereditary, sometimes from a missing tooth.
An Overbite- When the upper jaw and teeth protrude more than 10% over the lower teeth. These can cause speech impediments such as a lisp, difficulty eating and jaw pain.
An Underbite- The exact opposite of an overbite, much like a bulldog. This problem can also cause speech impediments, difficulty eating, jaw pain and the teeth will not wear evenly.
Open Bites- A problem that occurs when the jaw is closed, the back teeth are touching, and the front teeth are not. This problem will lead to speech issues, the teeth not wearing evenly and some jaw pain.
Crossbites- When the upper teeth on one side of your mouth end up on the inside of the lower teeth causing the teeth to wear down unevenly and also the possibility of gum disease and bone loss.
The Most Common Orthodontic Treatments
Dental research claims that as many as 70% of people have some mild orthodontic problem. The majority of orthodontic problems are treated with some form of an appliance to gently move the teeth. So, we will address those common treatments. First are the traditional braces, which consist of a series of metal brackets attached directly to the teeth. These bands are linked by an arch wire that is actually used to move the teeth. You can choose to relocate the wire to the inside of the teeth and that option is call a lingual set of braces. The third options are now ceramic brackets and the wires available to minimize the visibility of the braces. Finally, a recent technologically driven option is called Invisalign. Designed by a CAD/CAM system, this method features a series of removal plastic trays that through their precise digital design move the teeth. They must be worn 22 hours a day and then are to be replaced by the next tray every two weeks.
The Benefits of Orthodontic Treatments
As mentioned previously, the most obvious benefit is immediately the visual difference. Whether it be straighter teeth or correcting an overbite, the orthodontic treatment has brought back to you a healthy natural smile. Research has proven that a healthy smile can be identified as the foundation for your personality. It can drive your improved self-confidence and self-esteem in your personal circles, your social encounters, and your professional or business engagements. So, the mental benefits may be difficult to quantify but are still evident non the less. The physical benefits may result in correcting a speech impediment, the mechanical logistics of simply biting and chewing, and also extending the life expectancy of your natural teeth. The elimination of any and all jaw pain goes without saying as a huge benefit. If these problems are left unattended, they will result in unnecessary stress on your gums and supporting bones, increase your facial and neck pains and even result in pounding headaches. These orthodontic treatments are in the long run less costly than dealing with some of these unnecessary problems that will result from the lack of the proper orthodontic care.
An Orthodontic Referral
When you do see a general family dentist twice a year for the suggested checkups and evaluations, they will refer you to a trusted orthodontist in your market. You should always, daily, continue to exercise good oral hygiene at home and see your dentist consistently to remain in a proactive and preventative mode for your oral care. An orthodontist will see you after your treatment to do the same thing, to monitor the improvements and to maintain their condition.
Difference Between Orthodontist and Dentist?
Dentistry, or the dental sciences, is a division of medical sciences that studies and focuses on all conditions related to the oral cavity. Dentistry will diagnosis, provide prevention and treatment of diseases, disorders and conditions associated with your teeth, your gums, and all soft tissues of the mouth. The field of dentistry or dental medicine will also include aspects of craniofacial issues such as your temporomandibular joint and other supporting elements such muscular, vascular, lymphatic, nervous, and anatomical structures.
The history of dentistry dates back thousands of years. In fact, dentistry is actually thought to have been the very first specialization in all of medicine. The word dentist is derived from the French and Latin words for tooth. All the branches of dentistry are practiced around the globe according to the World Health Organization because oral diseases are a huge major public health problem, even more specifically with the disadvantaged social-economic groups.
The education necessary to qualify for a Doctor of Dental Sciences starts with at least four years of undergraduate studies which results in a bachelor’s degree, then followed by four years of dental school. At this point they can earn their DDS degree. They next can add additional education to focus on one of the nine branches or disciplines focusing on various specific areas on oral medicine.
The Different Branches of the Dental Sciences
The specialties are as follows and the area of focus:
- Orthodontics-is a specialty of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis, prevention, and correction of mispositioned teeth and jaws, misaligned bite patterns.
- Endodontics- the dental specialty concerned with the study and treatment of the dental pulp.
- Pediatric dentistry-the branch of dentistry dealing with children from birth through adolescence.
- Minimal intervention dentistry-is a modern dental practice designed around the principal aim of preservation of as much of the natural tooth structure as possible.
- Periodontics-the specialty of dentistry that studies supporting structures of teeth, as well as diseases and conditions that affect them.
- Prosthodontics-also known as dental prosthetics or prosthetic dentistry, is the area of dentistry that focuses on dental prostheses.
- Oral and maxillofacial surgery-a surgical specialty focusing on the reconstruction of the face, facial trauma surgery, the oral cavity, mouth, head, and neck, and both jaws, as well as facial cosmetic surgery.
- Oral pathology-this specialty is concerned with the diagnosis and study of the causes and effects of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial region.
- Oral medicine-the discipline of dentistry studying the oral health care of medically complex patients.
The primary difference between a family, general dentist and an orthodontic then begins with their additional education which allows the orthodontist to focus on more specific needs versus just an overall oral health care approach.
The Treatments and Procedures
Now let us look at some of the procedures that you can expect from the office of either your family dentist or an orthodontist. The American Dental Association, or ADA, defines a general dentist as one who encourages good oral hygiene and then provides the necessary services related to tooth decay, gum disease, root canals, crowns, bridges, veneers and even teeth whitening. Your orthodontist will specialize in misaligned teeth, crowded teeth, an overbite or an underbite. They will help you by aligning your teeth, improving your bite, and fitting you with corrective braces or a similar type appliance. The orthodontist will also help you with any TMJ or TMD disorders, jaw issues or even suggested extractions that will benefit alignment.
Your Family Dentist
The relationship between your family dentist and a possible orthodontist may often look like this. The health industry strongly suggests that you schedule consistent preventative appointments with your family dentist twice a year. At these appointments you can expect to have a thorough diagnosis of your teeth, your gums, and all soft tissue. They will look for tooth decay and any indication of periodontal disease, or gum disease. If all goes well, they will finish your visit with a professional cleaning of your teeth and send you on your way.
If the patient is possibly your child and the family dentist suggest you might want to have their teeth straightened, an orthodontist will be recommended. If you are tired of your overbite or underbite, again, an orthodontist will be up next on your oral health team. In both cases the orthodontist will evaluate your situation and make some suggestions based on this evaluation. Orthodontic correction may be provided by traditional braces, or those braces mounted on the inside of the teeth, clear braces that are less visible or even the new Invisalign system that uses CAD-CAM engineered, developed trays to move the teeth to the desired positions. If you have developed uncomfortable TMJ pain an orthodontist is trained to assist and correct this problem.
An orthodontist can and will play an important role in your oral health or your child’s. They also appreciate the value of a healthy smile and the role it plays in your overall life.
Invisalign Maple Grove
Invisalign is a popular alternative to traditional braces primarily because, unlike braces, Invisalign is clear and can be removed for better oral hygiene. Invisalign involves replacing a custom-fit-aligner every week, which will cause your teeth to gradually straighten until they are in the correct position.
Braces Maple Grove
Dental braces are an orthodontic device that help correct a variety of dental issues, such as crooked teeth, cross bites, open bites, overbites, underbites and malocclusions. The four most common type of dental braces used are ceramic, metal, self-ligating, and Invisalign.
Teeth Whitening & Ortho
It can be difficult to perform teeth whitening for patients who have braces, but there are procedures available that are offered at our clinic. We are also happy to discuss different teeth whitening products and provide guidance on how to best use these products in conjunction with your orthodontics.
Habit therapy refers to therapeutic interventions and exercises that are designed to help patients identify bad
oral habits and learn how to break those habits and/or replace them with good habits. Habit therapy can be
especially effective in helping children stop sucking on their thumb. Our clinic can instruct you and your child
on several different exercises that help you and your child break bad habits and develop good ones.
Surgical orthodontics is a surgical procedure or procedures performed for patients with severe oral issues that cannot be treated with conventional methods, such as jaw bone abnormalities, incorrect position of teeth (malocclusion), or severely bad bites. Orthognathic surgery can have a significant impact on improving issuessuch as joint pain, periodontal issues, speech difficulties, facial dysfunction, and other related issues.
Palatal expansion is a treatment typically performed on children (although it can be effective for adults as well) and involves using a palatal expander to widen the maxillary (upper jaw) to improve the fitting of the top and lower teeth. Following the use of the palatal expander, patients will typically be fitted for braces to straighten their teeth. Palatal expansion will ideally be performed on patients before or during a growth spurt.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Airway and breathing obstructive sleep apnea can occur when a patient’s throat muscles relax and block their airway while they are sleeping, causing them to snore loudly or wake up gasping for air. Other symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include drowsiness during the day, frequent headaches, nighttime sweating, highblood pressure, and more. There are a variety of different methods for treating sleep apnea, including lifestyle changes, CPAP machines, and/or orthodontically coordinated surgery.
Retainers are orthodontic appliances that are customized to fit your unique needs and prevent teeth from returning to their original positions following the removal of braces. Many people assume that following the removal of braces, their teeth will remain straight permanently. We now know that teeth can return to their original positions, which is why it is now considered best practice to wear a retainer for life time after your braces have been removed. Dr. Pan will be happy to provide you an overview of the different types of retainers available, each retainer types pros and cons, and which retainer type is best suited for you.
Over 18 million Americans are currently affected by sleep apnea, a condition that typically presents itself as snoring or waking up gasping for air. These issues are occurring due to the patient’s throat muscles relaxing to the point that they block the airway. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to follow up with your dentist, as there are many health risks associated with sleep apnea, such as behavioral problems in children and an increased risk of heart attack or stroke in adults.
Special Needs Dentistry
Special needs dentistry refers to a special approach to dentistry for patients who have been diagnosed with behavioral issues, Down syndrome, anxiety disorders, ADHD, palate issues, and cleft lip to name a few. Our staff is trained in treating patients who fit this category, with a focus on positive reinforcement and enhanced communications. We are committed to providing all our patients with a loving and safe environment so they can receive the care they need.
Tooth exposure refers to a procedure where a permanent tooth that has failed to erupt is exposed through a tiny incision that is made into your gum. Once the gum is exposed, the gum tissue is lifted and a bracket is placed. At your follow up appointment, a rubber band is attached to this bracket and the tooth is gently moved to the proper position. This is an important procedure to perform because failure to do so can impact a patient’s smile and alter the alignment of their teeth, which can change their bite.
TMJ & TMD
Patients suffering from TMD (temporomandibular disorders) have a dysfunction of their TMJ (temporomandibular joint), the joint that connects your lower jawbone and skull together. TMD can present several different ways, including difficulty opening your mouth all the way, soreness and pain, difficulty chewing, and/or swelling. There are a range of factors that can cause TMD, such as arthritis, stress, or bruxism. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to correct this issue, which we will be happy to discuss with you.