Orthodontics LA

What is an Orthodontist?

Posted on November 30, 2018

Before we embark with this question, we need to explain the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist. Both practices are in the dentistry field and help patients improve their oral health. Differences emerge in the way they help patients and specialization. Dentists are board certified oral medical doctors that help treat teeth, gum, nerves, and jaw issues. General dentists can treat different types of oral problems but may refer their clients to other dentists for specialization. Orthodontics is a branch within dentistry field the focuses on correcting bites and straightening teeth. Orthodontists specialize in diagnosing and treating irregular teeth.

Dentists can help clients prevent and treat the following:

    • Tooth decay: Tooth decay is the destruction of the enamel. The enamel is the outer part of the teeth.
    • Root canals: Root canals are the most common treatment done to teeth. This is when the dentist cleans and restores the inside of the tooth or the root canal.
    • Gum disease: Gum disease is a very common but serious infection that damages gums and can damage the jawbone
    • Crowns: Crowns are tooth-shaped caps that are placed over the tooth to cover and restore the shape and size of the tooth.
    • Bridges: Bridges are a dental restoration to replace one or more missing tooth. Usually, put on an artificial tooth.
    • Veneers: Veneers are a layer of material put over the tooth to improve a smile and protect the tooth’s surface.
    • Teeth Whitening: Teeth whitening is the process of whitening one’s teeth. This can also remove stains or other discoloration of the tooth surface.

Orthodontists specialize in the alignment of the teeth and provide care related to:

    • Misaligned teeth
    • Crowded teeth
    • Overbite
    • Underbite

Crooked teeth that don’t fit together correctly are harder to keep clean and are at higher risk of being lost earlier due to tooth decay. Therefore, we highly recommend visiting a certified dentist or orthodontist if you haven’t done so already.

How are a dentist and orthodontist similar?

Both dentists and orthodontists have a lot of similarities. The main similarity between the two practices come with their focus in oral care. They are both considered doctors and an orthodontist can also work in a dental office and provide the same care as a dentist.

How does one become a certified orthodontist?

The process of becoming an orthodontist can take more than ten years to complete. Orthodontists must earn a bachelor’s degree, then an individual must graduate from a four year accredited dental school program and then go through a two to three-year training program. In these two years, they are trained in diagnosis, prevention, interception, and correction of bite issues. After completing the training program, a dentist must pass the written section of the American Board of Orthodontics exam in order to become a practicing orthodontist. Furthermore, orthodontists must have great knowledge of dental neuromuscular and skeletal abnormalities. Therefore, a majority of orthodontists are also recognized by state boards and professional organizations.

Then what exactly does an orthodontist treat?

Like we mentioned above, an orthodontist is essentially a dentist, but they handle issues pertaining to teeth and jaw correction. As a patient, you don’t necessarily need a referral to see an orthodontist, in fact, you can contact them directly if you’re concerned about crowded or crooked teeth. There are about 8,000 orthodontists in the United States, so you shouldn’t have a difficult time finding an orthodontist.   

Orthodontists will give their patients a variety of treatment options to correct their teeth. Orthodontists usually give these treatment options such as traditional braces, clear braces, Damon braces, and Invisalign. We’ll go into further detail on each treatment down below, even though we advise going to an orthodontist for more information. We simply want to equip you with information that can be used prior to your first visit with an orthodontist.

The four main types of braces that patients can choose from are:

    • Traditional braces: Metal or traditional braces are the most commonly used braces. They are often what comes to mind when individuals think of braces. Orthodontic technology has made traditional braces much more comfortable and affordable for patients. Traditional braces are made of stainless steel and straighten your teeth using a combination of brackets and archwires.
    • Clear (ceramic) Braces: Ceramic braces provide the effectiveness of traditional braces without being as visible as traditional braces. Clear braces are made of a translucent material that makes them as clear as possible. These braces are an option for those patients concerned with the cosmetic look of traditional braces. Clear braces do have their own drawbacks, including being more fragile and requiring more dental visits. Patients must also be more selective in the foods they consume because of the fragile nature of the clear braces. But clear braces are exactly what they sound like, clear and not easily noticeable.
    • Damon Braces: Damon braces are the newest technology of braces for teeth alignment treatment. Damon braces are a tie-less system, which allows for less friction and faster teeth movement. Damon braces don’t require the typical tightening and require fewer adjustments because they utilize shape-memory wires. Treatment times are shorter, and fewer appointments are required.
    • Invisalign (clear aligners): Invisalign is a clear aligner system that is custom-made with plastic aligners. These aligners are designed through computer simulation to ensure optimal results. Through these simulations, orthodontists will make the patients clear and removable tray aligners that provides tooth movement. They are similar to the clear braces that we mentioned above with the exception that Invisalign treatment is aesthetically designed and can be barely be seen by your peers. This treatment is a very popular treatment among adults and other people who would like a more discreet treatment.

There are many different kinds of orthodontic treatment that can be prescribed. There are devices that assist the movement of teeth, change jaw positioning, and hold teeth in place while waiting for other areas of movement. Your orthodontist will give you all the options to give you the best treatment for your lifestyle and budget.

The importance of seeing an orthodontist

Aside from having an aesthetically beautiful smile after treatment, orthodontists understand the health benefits of bite correction treatments. When teeth are not properly aligned for chewing and biting, they can result in conditions like temporomandibular joint disorder.  This joint disorder can cause pain and discomfort to patients. Additionally, poor bite alignment can also cause unwanted wear and tear on the natural teeth.

Jaw alignment is also extremely important for oral health. When your jaw is misaligned, pain and oral health can become problems. Ideal occlusion means that your teeth meet as they should when you open or close your jaw. Malocclusion refers to any bite which differs from the ideal. You may have heard malocclusion referred to as an overbite, underbite, or crossbite, each of which describes a different variation of misalignment.