Orthodontists are the people we think about when we or our children need braces. But orthodontists are much more than just the brace people. For starters, they are highly trained dental specialists who have taken special training in a dental school or college after they have graduated from the regular dentistry program. They work in the field of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics and they focus on the diagnosis, prevention and correction of malpositioned teeth and the jaws.
It is true that one of the main ways that orthodontists deal with teeth that are out of position or irregularly shaped is through braces. But there’s more to their work and their speciality than that.
1. Minor adjustments
Orthodontists are often the starting point for helping to identify and resolve serious dental concerns and many people benefit from their help before moving on to more serious oral or dental surgery. They can sometimes straighten a cracked or broken tooth through “non-removal” means so you don’t have to get it pulled. They can also sometimes move crooked teeth away from impeding wisdom teeth to reduce pain and make the removal of those wisdom teeth easier.
2. Avoiding major dental surgery
An orthodontist can also assist with a twisted or malformed tooth that might be causing you or a family member problems. You may have been advised to have dental surgery to open your gum and turn the tooth manually, but the orthodontist may be able to install a kind of braces that can slowly turn that tooth without surgery.
They can also work to perform all kinds of regular dental work if you would like. This is not their normal practice, but as trained dentists, they have the capacity to do this on an irregular or emergency basis.
3. Working with children
Orthodontists do spend a lot of their time installing braces and we will talk about that in the next section. But because they do that work, and as it involves children in a majority of cases, many of them have developed a comfortable chair-side manner with children of all ages. That makes them ideal candidates to be your family’s dental care provider.
They have a dental degree and particularly in smaller communities, many orthodontists offer this type of full service dental care to the whole family, particularly to those with young children who may feel intimidated with other dentists.
As noted above, orthodontists work with patients of all ages to adjust and correct their malpositioned teeth and jaws. The primary way they do this is through the option of fixed appliances which are more commonly known as braces. Braces come in three main types. They are the silver metal type, ceramic braces, and the new lingual or clear braces that are sometimes called invisible braces.
Metal braces are the most popular and inexpensive type of braces are made from high grade stainless steel and they are held in place with a thin wire and rubber bands that puts pressure on the teeth and moves them to the desired place. Ceramic braces are gaining in popularity because they are not as visible as the metal braces and are made to blend in with the teeth. Ceramic braces are more sensitive and can easily break or chip and they do need more maintenance.
Lingual braces are the newest kind of braces. They use the same components as metal braces but the brackets that hold them in place are made of a translucent ceramic material. They are almost invisible and are customized to bond and hide behind the teeth to remain out of sight.