Orthodontist is a dental specialist who uses braces, retainers, trays (or aligners) and other appliances like the headgear in correcting the fit of the teeth and the alignment of the jaws.
Misaligned teeth, also called malocclusions or faulty occlusions, don't only affect a person's self-esteem but also affect the ability to speak and chew. These can cause snoring, sleep apnea, and breathing problems.
In the United States, more than 50 percent of the people have misaligned teeth and jaws.
Common types of this problem include:
- open bites
Reasons For Visiting An Orthodontist
An orthodontist also corrects the teeth and jaws of babies who are born with cleft lips or cleft palates (incomplete formation of the upper lip or roof of the mouth).
The primary reason people see an orthodontist is for the treatment of a malocclusion or a bad bite. For some people, it's about improving their smile so that they would be more confident whenever they are around other people and they won't spend their lives trying to hide their crooked teeth. Self-esteem is important but even more important is your health.
Misaligned teeth can affect your health not only through those conditions mentioned above but also through dental problems like tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss. Overlapping teeth are very hard to clean. Overbites or underbites may also cause clenching or grinding (bruxism).
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends parents to have their children see an orthodontist before they reach the age of seven even if they don't have any problems with their teeth. During this time, the jaw is still in the developmental stage so solving problems will be much easier. For adults, many orthodontists say that their patients are typically between the ages of 26 to 44 years old, although there are other patients who are much older at 60 to 70 years old.
Choosing A Good Orthodontist
Picking a good orthodontist is critical since orthodontic work is complicated and you need someone specialized and experienced to do that for you.
Choose a dentist who's specialized in orthodontics through an accredited orthodontic specialty program. You may also get information from the AAO. Get a list of all its members since membership to this organization requires that one is an orthodontic specialist. Dentists who display membership in AAO in their clinics are specialists.
Another place to look is at the American Board of Orthodontics (ABO). Although board certification is optional for orthodontists who want to have their competency evaluated, you'll get proficient referrals from its official website.
There's always the word-of-mouth system that you can always rely on. If you know someone who's got fitted with braces or other similar devices, ask for the rating of their experience and for a recommendation.