Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of malocclusions, also known as bad bites and facial irregularities. Professional skill is needed to design, apply and control corrective appliances, such as braces, to bring the teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment. An orthodontist has specialized training beyond dental school, only practices orthodontics and treats many more patients than a general dentist that may also place braces.
Few investments provide the excellent physical, psychological and economic benefits of a healthy smile. Other possible benefits of orthodontic treatment include increased cleaning ability of the teeth, decreased injury risk of protruding teeth, improved function and increased self-confidence due to the improved appearance.
Some reasons that orthodontic treatment may be needed are:
- Upper front teeth flare excessively over the lower teeth
- Upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deep bite)
- Upper front teeth are behind/inside the lower front teeth (underbite)
- Upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
- Crowded or overlapped teeth
- Center of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
- Finger- or thumb-sucking habits which continue after 6 or 7 years old
- Difficulty chewing
- Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
- Lower jaw shifts to the side when biting together
- Spaces between the teeth