The Best Answer To The Big Question: What is Orthodontics?

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The multiple choice test is here. What is orthodontics? How will you score?

Question: What is Orthodontics?

Answer A) A Word

If it sounds Greek to you, you are on the right track. In Greek, “Orthos” means straight or proper. “Dontos” means teeth. The Greek root of the word orthodontics provides us a great clue.

Answer B) A Specialty

Doctors that continue education in their practice and emphasize in a particular area often receive a new name for their specialty. A typical educational path of an orthodontist might look like this: obtain an undergraduate degree, complete dental school, finish post-graduate training as an orthodontist. The post-graduate training lasts 2 – 4 additional years. It includes residency and real-world experience at clinics and medical offices.

The additional education makes them experts in the study and treatment of improper bites. In fact, orthodontics is the first dental specialty. A dentist fights plaque on the teeth. An orthodontist fights bad alignment of the teeth.

Answer C) A Bite Treatment

A visit to the dentist twice a year is an appointment most of us keep. This commitment to your mouth is admirable, but is it enough? Good dental health requires not only clean teeth and disease free gums but also a proper bite.

The bottom and top teeth meet in the middle to form the bite. A stable bite maintains an acceptable jaw range of motion and alignment of teeth during chewing, speaking, and sleeping. An orthodontist assesses the bite of a patient and recommends appropriate treatment options.

Answer D) Cosmetic and Functional Dentistry

Most dental insurance providers offer a lifetime benefit to the patient for orthodontics. Removing spaces between teeth and straightening crooked teeth are more cosmetic treatments in orthodontics. Addressing an overbite (when the top teeth are too far forward over the lower) or an open bite (when the top and bottom teeth do not touch upon closing) are less cosmetic and more functional treatments in orthodontics. Therefore, orthodontics treats both cosmetic and functional dental abnormalities, often both at the same time.

Answer E) A Diverse Field

The practice of orthodontics includes traditional methods to align the bite like braces and more modern methods like removable aligners. Orthodontic patients are all ages from teenagers to adults. Some bite conditions treated by an orthodontist are genetic. Others are environmental or the result of trauma to the mouth. Orthodontic treatment may occur during a short time period or extend a longer time past the more aggressive treatment of a condition. A patient may be required to wear an orthodontic device in maintenance mode. For example, a patient transitions from braces to a retainer worn at night to maintain teeth alignment.

Answer F) All of the Above

F is the best answer. Besides “what is orthodontics,” answers to more of your questions are available now at a local orthodontist office.

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