Orthodontics is defined as a branch of dentistry dealing with irregularities of the teeth and their correction. Orthodontics was derived from the English word “ortho” meaning straight and the Greek word “odont” meaning tooth. The scope of work for orthodontists consists of diagnosing and treating malocclusions such as overbites, underbites, deep bites and crossbites, teeth crowding and gaps between the teeth. These conditions are often genetic, but they can also be caused by trauma or habits such as thumb-sucking.
Orthodontists usually use braces and clear aligners to set the patient’s teeth. Additional components, including removable appliances (“plates”), headgear, expansion appliances, bite planes, etc, may also be used to move teeth and jaw bones.
Before the orthodontic treatment is started, the orthodontist will need to take the patient’s baseline records first such as the panoramic and cephalometric rays, clinical photographs and a model of the teeth. From then, the orthodontist must recognize the type of malocclusion of dentofacial deformity that the patient has and formulate the treatment method based on the specific needs and desires of the patient.
After the course of orthodontic treatment where the teeth are aligned and are set in the right place, the orthodontist will prescribe a custom-made retainer for the patient. Retainers will help the teeth to maintain their position until their surrounding bones stabilizes. There are many studies to prove that the teeth move throughout lifetime, that is why many orthodontists recommend night time wear for many years after orthodontic treatment.