What Is Orthodontics?

At Austin Orthodontics, we are proud of what we do and how we enhance our patients’ lives. But if you’ve never gone through orthodontic treatment, you may be wondering what exactly orthodontics is.

What Is Orthodontics?

Because of the similar technology and setup used, it’s understandable when someone visits an orthodontist office for the first time that they think they’re walking into a dentist’s office. However, orthodontics is a specialized practice that focuses on fixing irregularities in teeth alignment and jaw shape through the use of braces, Invisalign, expanders, retainers, and surgery.

Another common misconception is that orthodontics only improves the look of your smile when it actually is beneficial to your health as well to have straighter teeth and properly aligned jaws. In fact, orthodontists often fix issues that aren’t even noticeable without looking at x-rays or digital images.

Orthodontic Education

All orthodontists graduate from dental school, which is typically a four-year program completed after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in a related field. To become an orthodontist, however, requires even more training. A doctor who wants to become an orthodontist will need to be accepted into a residency training program where they will learn in-depth details about tooth movement, correcting irregularities in face shape, biomechanics, and other necessary knowledge to practice orthodontics. These programs are highly competitive, and once training is completed, all orthodontists must pass a rigorous board exam to become licensed.

Types of Orthodontic Treatment

The most well-known type of orthodontic treatment is having teeth aligned with braces. Traditional metal braces use a combination of brackets, superelastic metal wires, and elastic bands. At Austin Orthodontics we use a slightly different type of braces, known as self-ligating braces, which eliminate the need for the bands around the brackets. As your wires are changed throughout the course of your treatment, your teeth will slowly move into place, resulting in a straight smile. Braces may also include elastic bands that run between your upper and lower jaw to correct an overbite or underbite.

The most discreet option for tooth alignment is the Invisalign clear aligner system. This treatment straightens your teeth using progressive sets of clear, plastic trays that snap over your teeth and can be removed when eating, drinking, and brushing your teeth.

A lesser known type of orthodontic treatment involves early intervention to correct jaw shape, size, and tooth spacing issues. Children should be seen by an orthodontist at age 7 to see if there are any problems that can be more easily corrected before their adult teeth are all in and their jaws are fully developed. For different types of corrections, particularly in teens and adults, surgery may be needed to achieve the best results. Another issue that can often be treated by an orthodontist is temporomandibular disorder, or TMD. This condition is related to the joints between your upper and lower jaws, and can cause pain in your face and neck and headaches.

As you can see, orthodontics is different than dentistry and consists of more than just giving people pretty smiles. Contact Dr. Briggs and the team at Austin Orthodontics today to learn more about what they can do for you.