What are orthodontists?

Orthodontists specialise in the movement of teeth aka braces. They have done 3-years full time additional training in this field in addition to 5 years at dental school, to be included on the specialist register and officially called an orthodontist.

In a nutshell, orthodontists specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of teeth and jaw alignment problems. As a specialist they are only able to practice orthodontics.

What problems do orthodontists specialize in?

Common problems that orthodontists deal with include:

  • Malocclusion
  • Crowded teeth
  • Unaesthetic teeth and smiles
  • Missing teeth
  • Preparation for restorative work e.g. creating space for implants.
  • Overbites or deep bites
  • Underbite
  • Open bite
  • Jaw surgery in combination with orthodontic treatment
  • Reverse bites or class III malocclusion
  • Crossbite
  • Gaps between teeth
  • Aiding tooth and facial development
  • Stopping movement of teeth
  • Asymmetrical teeth
  • Improving speech

What treatments do orthodontists specialize in?

Some dentists perform orthodontic treatment, others refer their patients to specialists. There is a large spectrum of experience from very little to quite extensive amoung general dental practitioners. However if you visit a qualified orthodontist you can be rest assured you are receiving the best possible treatment and experience.

The orthodontist will take scans and xrays to assess your case before presenting the options available for correcting your problem. They perform the following treatments to treat and prevent misaligned jaws and teeth:

  • Standard Braces
  • Invisalign
  • Clear braces or invisible braces
  • Headgear
  • Removable retainers
  • Fixed retainers
  • Space maintainers
  • Aligners
  • Lip and cheek bumpers
  • Palatal expanders
  • Splints
  • Rubber bands or elastics
  • Functional appliances
  • Orthodontic plates

It is important to remember that the length of orthodontic treatment can vary depending on the movement required and complexity of the case. An average time frame would generally be about 18 months.

When should orthodontic treatments begin?

Orthodontic treatment is commonly started when a child has all their permanent teeth to move them into position. That said there are a number of circumstances where treatment earlier on can have a positive effect down the track and reduce treatment times needed with conventional braces. This is termed interceptive orthodontic treatment. Your dentist will check your children’s teeth at every recall and complete a referral if necessary for the orthodontist to assess any potential developmental problems even as young as 6 years old.