Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry devoted to correcting misalignments of the bite and teeth. Using appliances such as braces, headgear and palatal expanders, orthodontists can move teeth and jawbones into their ideal positions for optimal oral functioning and aesthetic appeal. To become an orthodontist, a dentist must undergo up to three years of specialized training after completing dental school.
Parents are encouraged to obtain orthodontic evaluations for their children by the time they reach the age of seven. At this age, most children have already lost some of their primary teeth, and permanent teeth have taken their place. Your orthodontist can easily spot problems with tooth eruption or jaw development during this phase and can actually help influence proper growth with the use of orthodontic appliances. Interceptive treatment can correct a number of issues, including expanding the jaws to create more room for teeth to erupt in proper alignment or reserving the space where a baby tooth was lost too soon so that the remaining teeth do not shift and become crooked. Early orthodontic treatments can help eliminate the need for braces later in life or at least dramatically reduce the amount of time braces must be worn.