Some might say an orthodontist is like a magician: After all, who else can actually move your teeth into more perfect positions, and make your smile so much more appealing? In truth, an orthodontist’s work is a blend of science and art, using skills and techniques that are gained through years of education and clinical experience. Here are five things you should know about this unique dental specialist.
1) Orthodontists are specially trained in fixing bite problems.
After finishing college and dental school, they complete a postgraduate training program in orthodontics that usually takes two or three years. During that time, they become experts in the growth and development of the teeth and jaws. They also gain the knowledge and clinical skills needed to correct a wide variety of bite problems – from over- or under-bites, to misaligned or over-crowded teeth, and even skeletal issues related to the jaw.
2) Orthodontists aren’t just for kids (or adolescents).
In fact, teeth that are otherwise healthy can be moved at any time – just look at the many Hollywood stars who have had braces as adults! But adolescence is a particularly advantageous time to have orthodontic treatment: That’s because orthodontists can often harness the mouth’s natural growth patterns to help do the work of moving teeth quickly and efficiently.
3) You don’t need a referral to see an orthodontist.
All you need is the desire for a better smile. Many orthodontists offer a free initial consultation, at which potential bite problems can be evaluated, and a treatment plan may be developed. You can also discuss fees and payment plans, and get an idea of the time frame required for your orthodontic treatment.
4) Orthodontists use many devices to move teeth: not just braces!
For malocclusions (bad bites) that are less severe, clear aligners may be an alternative to braces. These almost-invisible plastic trays are worn 22 hours per day, but may be removed for meals, brushing and flossing, and even special occasions. If braces are recommended, colorless ceramic types offer a less-visible alternative to the traditional silver ones. And in children, special devices like palatal expanders can produce dramatic results while shortening time in braces.
5) The improved smile you get from orthodontics can last your whole life.
Unlike some other cosmetic procedures, the results of orthodontic treatment can be permanent. Your orthodontist will explain how to properly care for your teeth while you’re having treatment – and how the use of a retainer can help you keep that attractive smile for years to come. Plus, having a well-aligned bite can make it easier for you to maintain your overall oral hygiene – and that just might help you avoid dental problems in the future!