My teeth have been in braces for almost two years now, and I got to know that the repositioning of teeth that I was undergoing is under orthodontics specialty in dentistry. I became interested in learning more about that field, and that is why I scheduled an interview with my orthodontist, Dr. O. The interview coincided with my appointment with a hygienist, a colleague of Dr. O. I talked to my orthodontist while waiting to get my teeth cleaned and got an important insight into the field of orthodontics. The location of the interview was South West Dental in Scottsdale, Arizona and the date was March 5, 2014. After interviewing my orthodontist, I did personal research on the subject and got the findings described in this paper.
According to Dr. O., orthodontics is a specialty in dentistry that deals with tooth movement, growth, and their long-term control. General dentistry differs from orthodontics in the sense that general dentistry is more about repairing damages that have occurred due to a person’s dental health while orthodontics is majorly about improving the structure and function of the teeth. It is concerned with rectifying anomalies in the positions of the teeth and jaws. These anomalies usually result in improper bites. An improper bite caused by misalignment of teeth is called malocclusion, while abnormally positioned jaws result in occlusions (Oral Health 1). Any of the anomalies described tend to comprise the oral health, physical, aesthetic, and mental wellbeing of the person affected. Dr. O. informed me that in order to become an orthodontics practitioner, one has to first study for four years in general dentistry and then study orthodontics for two to three years in graduate school.
The persons that require orthodontic procedures are those with teeth that are crooked, protruding, or crowded. Such teeth make smiling difficult and may even distort the speech of the affected person. Teeth in such conditions have unnatural spaces that make it harder to maintain oral hygiene and are more likely to have cavities. In extreme cases, the teeth or jaws may be so misaligned that they cause pain and discomfort. Individuals with such problems should see orthodontists. The problems that orthodontics rectify are not limited to any age (Oral Health 2). This is unlike in the case of general dentists whose major category of patients is little children. Orthodontists have patients that span all ages, and it is not necessary that they should be suffering any discomfort. Dr. O is intimated to have had little children that have lost their teeth only for him to replace them, and also of elderly patients, such as a lady in her late sixties that needed to have her teeth straightened(‘Dental Specialist Interview.Mp3’). Some come for orthodontic procedures in order to straighten their teeth and improve their smile. In the end, the procedure improves the bite of a person and their appearance. It can therefore be referred to as a corrective and a cosmetic procedure.
Teeth positioning problems may run in families, being one of the causes of crooked teeth. The teeth may also get misaligned because of childhood habits, such as thumb sucking. A lost tooth or teeth may result in the shifting of the positions of the remaining teeth, the cause of the dental problem notwithstanding, the orthodontist can treat the following conditions: crooked teeth; crowded teeth; an overbite, an underbite, and an overjet; an open bite; too much space between the teeth; and the results of extra or missing teeth. Some people become self-conscious about their appearance, especially if they have crooked or overcrowded teeth. This makes them unwilling to smile and can cost them their self-worth (Oral Health 3). Teeth that are not aligned make it hard to chew food and may result in some of the teeth wearing out. At the same time, they strain the muscles of the face that are used in chewing. Protruding teeth are at a higher risk of getting chipped or broken. It is advisable for a person having teeth alignment problems to have them treated by an orthodontist before all the permanent teeth come in. This is why interceptive orthodontics is required for children at around seven years of age in order to identify the possibility of having an orthodontic problem and have it rectified in time.
Orthodontic procedure functions by exerting a gentle pressure over time to teeth that are growing or have already grown out of place. This is usually done by using braces or retainers on the teeth. These braces over time straighten the teeth and make them look and function better. The straightening of the teeth has the additional effect of improving facial appearance and helping the muscles of the jaws to operate better. In the past, it was believed that orthodontics is a procedure only applicable to children; this was majorly due to the use of braces in this treatment. With the invention of invisible braces, orthodontic treatment has been embraced by adults wishing not only to improve their dental health but also their facial features. In addition to braces, headgear, retainers, removable appliances, and oral surgery may be required as a part of orthodontic procedure (Oral Health 3). This treatment takes a significant length of time before the desired results are attained. In some cases, it can take even several years. This therefore requires the patient to explore the options available and discuss them with the orthodontic practitioner.
Dr. O. revealed that orthodontists may have private practice or work as an association of specialists in different facets of dentistry. They may also work under both designations concurrently. Hygienists and orthodontist interact a lot as a result of the persons having braces expecting to visit the hygienists regularly (‘Dental Specialist Interview.Mp3’). They therefore require to know a lot concerning orthodontics and how it can make their work easier. This is because it is easier to clean straight teeth than crooked ones.
‘Dental Specialist Interview. Mp3’. 2014. In person.
Oral Health. Orthodontic Treatment. Indian Dental Association. (2014). Print.