Very few people are blessed with straight and flawless teeth that fit together perfectly. Orthodontics is a specialized field of dentistry that focuses on treating patients with malocclusions or “bad bites”.

A malocclusion is the improper positioning of the teeth with the mouth closed. Apart from correcting bad bites, orthodontics also involves the treatment of various abnormalities of the teeth and face as well as irregularities in the shape and development of the jaw.

A wide range of fixed or removable medical dental appliances are used in orthodontics to correct the following:

When does orthodontic treatment begin?

Orthodontic treatment can begin once the adult teeth have fully developed and emerged. Generally, this takes place when a child is about 12 or 13 years old. In a few instances, treatment will have to wait until a couple more years after, particularly when teeth problems manifest later than usual.

There are some cases however, when orthodontic treatment can begin before the adult teeth have developed fully as in the case of children with a cleft lip or palate.

How are dental problems requiring orthodontic treatment diagnosed?

An orthodontist will do an assessment of the overall state of a patient’s teeth and come up with an estimation of how they are likely to develop in case orthodontic treatment is withheld. Diagnostic methods may include a full review of the patient’s medical and dental health history, a clinical examination, radiographs of the jaw and teeth as well as taking plaster impressions of the patient’s teeth. The orthodontist will then formulate a treatment plan depending on the results.

What types of devices are used in orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic appliances consist of the following fixed or removable dental devices: