What is an Orthodontist?

Orthodontics is a dental specialty that aims to prevent, diagnose, and treat facial and dental irregularities, such as malocclusions (bad bites). Many orthodontic practices are limited to dentofacial orthopedics and general orthodontics but can successfully treat patients of any age. Orthodontists are fully qualified dentists who embark on a further three years of university-based study and gain extensive clinical experience in an orthodontic residency program. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is the regulating body for this branch of dentistry. Selecting an orthodontist who is a member of this organization adds the assurance that treatment is being administered by an individual with specialty education in oral biology and biomechanics. The AAO recommends that children should first be examined by the orthodontist around the age of seven, to ensure that jaw and tooth irregularities are not beginning to form.

What does an orthodontist do?

Orthodontists are experts in correcting misalignments of the teeth and jaw. There are many debilitating problems associated with misalignment, for example, speech defects, difficulties chewing, and difficulty maintaining adequate oral hygiene.

How does an orthodontist realign jaws and teeth?
Initially, the orthodontist conducts a thorough examination of the jaw and teeth. Panoramic X-rays and study models (bite impressions) will be taken prior to the orthodontist making treatment recommendations. Here is a brief overview of some of the treatments orthodontists may use:
Dental braces

Dental braces can be made of metal, ceramics or clear (“invisible”) materials.

Headgear and facemasks

These devices are generally used to correct a developmental problem, such as an overbite or an underbite


After the orthodontist has realigned the teeth using dental braces, removable devices, or a headgear, a retainer may be used to ensure the teeth do not move back to their original positions.

If you have any questions about orthodontists and the treatments they provide, please contact our office.

Anteroposterior deviations

The discrepancy between two closed jaws is known as an anteroposterior deviation, for example, an overbite (the upper teeth are further forward than the lower teeth), or an underbite.

Teeth overcrowding

Overcrowding is a common orthodontic problem. It occurs when there is an insufficient space for the normal growth and development of adult teeth.


Crooked teeth can be realigned by an orthodontist. Alternatively, orthodontists can also work to reshape and restructure the lips, jaw, or face.

Orthodontic Solutions

The orthodontist will generally perform a visual examination, panoramic X-rays, and study models (bite impressions) in order to assess the root cause. When a diagnosis has been made, there are a variety of orthodontic treatment options available.

Fixed orthodontic braces

A metal or ceramic dental base is affixed to each tooth, and a dental wire is inserted through each base. When the desired results are achieved, the fixed dental braces are completely removed.

Removable appliances

There are a wide range of removable appliances commonly used in orthodontics, including headgear that correct overbites, Hawley retainers that improve the position of the teeth even as the jawbone reforms, and facemasks which are used to correct an underbite.


This is a newer, removable type of dental aligner that is completely transparent. Invisalign® does not interfere with eating because of its removable nature, and mechanically works in the same way as the traditional metal dental braces. Not all patients are candidates for Invisalign®.

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