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Orthodontics is one of the nine recognized dental specialties by the ADA, or American Dental Association. The purpose of this specialty is to diagnose, prevent and treat or align improper teeth or malocclusions. Because malocclusions can affect ones speaking and eating habits classifies orthodontics as a restorative procedure. However, because many people want to use orthodontics for esthetic reasons, orthodontics can be classified as a cosmetic procedure.

There are numerous reasons why a person would need to see an orthodontist. Many people visit them to fix misaligned or unattractive, crooked teeth. Some people are having difficulty reaching certain teeth or areas in between teeth because of crooked teeth. However, many orthodontists these days are also concerned with fixing a patient’s mouth and jaw functionality through various procedures such as maxillofacial surgery.

In the past, orthodontists were considered pediatric dentists since most of their patients were children or teens. These days, orthodontists treat patients of all ages. This is possible due to the various, recent improvements within the orthodontic world. Patients can choose which form of treatment they’d like to receive including traditional archwires and brackets, Invisalign andClearCorrect.

Visiting the Orthodontist

If you need to see an orthodontist, your general or regular dentist will probably be able to refer one to you so you can receive a complete evaluation of your bite. Your orthodontist will use several techniques to design an orthodontic dental plan for you. Details within the plan may include:

  • Oral, facial and functional exam
  • Intraoral and facial photographs
  • Panoramic and cephalometric x-rays
  • Impressions of your teeth and bite

As part of the dental plan, your orthodontist will review previous or additional treatment plans to help him or her make a clinical assessment. Reviewing dental records, taking x-rays, photos and molds of your teeth and jaw line helps the orthodontist come up with a reasonable and realistic dental plan. Plus, most orthodontists work closely with other dental specialists to ensure the patient receives the proper treatment.

The orthodontic treatments usually take quicker to younger patients since their bones are more bendable and/or pliable than bones in adults. However, adults follow directions better and stick to treatment plans more consistently than younger patients. Occasionally, treatment takes longer due to things such as a need for oral surgery or when the jaw needs to be widened. Recovery times may be needed for during and after the surgery, which can extend the length of your treatment plan.

Learn more about these types of orthodontic procedures:


These invisible braces are gaining popularity within the world of orthodontics. Dentists and patients are finding them similar to other types of orthodontic invisible braces, only they are easier to use and cheaper in price.


Invisalign aligners are one of the type of orthodontic appliances available to dentists and patients. Learn more about them, including their costs, how they are made, how they work and who’s a candidate to wear them.

Orthodontic Braces

Braces are used to straighten crooked teeth. Orthodontic specialists usually apply, maintain and remove braces. Generally, impressions are taken of your teeth, photos are taken of your teeth and face, and x-rays are taken of your entire head to help the dentist assess the problem throughout the treatment process and into the next phase: Retainers. These days patient’s can choose from a number of colored braces, as well as rubber bands.


Retainers are used after braces are removed by your orthodontist. Sometimes the retainer is removable, other times it is not. Impressions are again taken of your teeth to help mold the retainer to fit your mouth. Patient’s these days have colorful options to choose from.

Page updated September 2012



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