What Is Orthodontics?
by Donna Pleis
If you're feeling self-conscious and concerned about crooked or protruding teeth, you're not alone. Not everyone has naturally perfect alignment, but thanks to orthodontics, you can have just that. What is orthodontics, you ask? Here's a full definition that just might have you rethinking your smile. Branch of Specialized Dentistry Although Ancient Egyptians and Greeks made primitive attempts to straighten their teeth, orthodontics wasn't a dental specialty until 1901 – when the first school of orthodontics was opened, according to Acceledent. The American Academy of Orthodontics (AAO) describes orthodontia as an area of dentistry that prevents, diagnoses and treats dental and facial irregularities. If you need orthodontic treatment, your family dentist will usually refer you to an orthodontist. These dental specialists study two to three additional years in the area of orthodontics, during which time they learn how to safely move teeth into proper alignment, guide facial development and ensure healthy growth in the jaw. Types of Orthodontic Problems Orthodontic misalignments, called malocclusions, can indicate a number of different conditions. Inherited malocclusions include jaw growth problems, congenitally missing teeth, extra teeth, crowded or protruded teeth and spacing problems. However, the premature loss of baby teeth, retention of baby teeth,