Orthodontics

Orthodontics

Orthodontists are dental specialists whose practice focuses on diagnosing and treating issues relating to tooth and jaw alignment. Although their most well-known procedure is the application and maintenance of braces, these dentists are qualified to provide numerous treatments. These may include jaw repositioning and alteration of the palate for proper bite patterns. Most operate independently, although some practice in conjunction with general dentists, cosmetic dentists or pediatric dentists. The field of orthodontics, like other dental specialties, has evolved significantly over recent decades, such that there are many advanced treatment options for patients of all ages.

Although most people consider braces to be a treatment primarily for children and adolescents, countless adults also stand to benefit from orthodontic treatment. One advancement that has improved the smile of millions of adults is Invisalign. Invisalign is a tooth alignment option that is much more flexible than traditional braces. The system entails wearing a series of invisible, removable aligners which gradually straighten the teeth over time, often in as little as 6 months. The advantage of Invisalign is that patients do not have to sacrifice the appearance of their smile in order to receive orthodontic treatment. Other options, such as braces which line the interior surfaces of teeth, are also a popular choice among many adults.

Becoming an orthodontist requires many years of rigorous study and training. These specialists must first earn a dental degree from an accredited, four-year dental school. This, of course, comes after a four-year undergraduate education. Following dental school, an additional 3 to 4 years of residency is required. These programs not only consist of didactic training, but advanced clinical experiences as well. Admission to orthodontic residency programs is intensely competitive. Upon completion of their training, many specialists join established practices, while some choose to start their own practice. The career necessitates many annual hours of continuing education and training on new orthodontic procedures.

When it comes time to choose an orthodontist, there are several things to look for. First, some specialists choose to take a national certification exam and become board certified. While not required, the best orthodontists will take this voluntary exam and earn their certification. Always ask prospective dentists about their credentials, and try to limit your search to those who are fully board certified. The range of treatments offered by a given practice is also important, particularly if you are interested in aesthetic treatment options such as Invisalign. Many providers across the country now offer treatments such as these. And of course, always discuss payment options and insurance with prospective doctors.

When visiting an orthodontist for the first time, there are several things he or she may need. If you are referred by a general dentist, chances are that they will send your necessary charts and paperwork on your behalf. These include X-rays of each quadrant of the mouth as well as a panoramic X-ray of the entire mouth. The chart from your general dentist will also include basic medical information, such as general health, known allergies, and any medications you may be taking. If these records do not exist, or your general dentist does not deliver them, your orthodontist can gather this information on his own. Each is crucial in tailoring your care to meet your personal and medical needs.