An orthodontist is a specialist in tooth movement and jaw alignment. All orthodontists are dentists first. Out of 100 dental school graduates, only six go on to become orthodontists.
An orthodontist’s education includes three steps: university, dental school and then orthodontic residency. It can take 10 or more years of post-secondary education to become an orthodontist. After completing university requirements, the prospective orthodontist attends dental school. Upon graduation, the future orthodontist must be accepted as a student in an accredited orthodontic residency program, then successfully complete a minimum of two to three years of study where they learn the skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development. Orthodontists limit their scope of work to orthodontics only, and only those who have successfully completed this formal education may call themselves an orthodontist.
Orthodontists are uniquely qualified in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of orthodontic problems. They dedicate their professional lives to creating healthy, beautiful smiles in children, teens and adults. They have the knowledge and skills necessary to recommend the best kind of appliance to meet every individual patient’s treatment goals, whether it be braces, clear aligner trays like Invisalign, or retainers.
Well-aligned teeth are more than attractive: they make it possible to bite, chew and speak effectively. Orthodontic care is often part of a comprehensive oral health plan.
Braces are used to straighten and align your teeth, which will ultimately lead to a gorgeous smile and improved function. When teeth are crooked and crowded, it’s more difficult for you to clean them. This can lead to problems such as gum disease and increased risk of tooth decay, which may lead to tooth loss. Misaligned or crooked teeth not only affect the esthetics of your smile, but can also result in abnormal wear of a tooth’s surface and difficulty chewing. The greatest benefit of orthodontic treatment is a straight, beautiful smile and the confidence that comes along with it.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have a check-up by an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7. By that age your adult front teeth have begun to erupt and problems can be detected such as crowding, habits, deep bites, open bites and some jaw discrepancies. This will allow us to determine if your child may need early orthodontic treatment.
Subtle problems with jaw growth and erupting teeth can be determined even when the child’s baby teeth are still present, and while your child’s teeth may appear to be straight, there could be a problem that only an orthodontist can detect.
Early treatment may prevent or intercept more serious problems from developing and may make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated. In some cases, treating a child early may allow us to achieve the results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing.
The photos to the right are examples of early and common issues that we see in children who may benefit from early diagnosis and examination by an orthodontist, thus giving your child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile.
Most parents think their child won’t need braces until all their adult teeth have come in. While most children lose their baby teeth by the age of 11 or 12, every child is different and sometimes there could be a jaw misalignment that may require earlier treatment.
The benefit of treating a child who still has growth potential is that we can use their potential for growth to help correct any jaw misalignment or discrepancy while they are still growing, preventing the need for a possible surgical procedure in the future or more complicated treatment later in life.
Early treatment and evaluation may give us the chance to:
guide jaw growth
lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
correct harmful oral habits
guide permanent teeth into a more favourable position
create a more pleasing arrangement of teeth, lips and face
It is never too early to bring your child in for a clinical assessment or consultation to see if they may have a tooth or jaw problem, and if and when treatment may be needed.
The majority of your adult teeth are present in your mouth by the time you reach your teenage years, which is the ideal time to get braces. However, we do recommend coming in before this time for an initial consultation to make sure there are no other problems that would benefit from being treated earlier.
Orthodontic treatment today is definitely different than it was 20 or 30 years ago. Braces may have had a bad reputation in the past, but with new technology, there are many ways we can straighten your teeth while still looking and feeling good.
Our practice offers a variety of options to straighten your teeth:
If you are an adult who is thinking about finally having that gorgeous smile you’ve always wanted, you still can! We treat lots of adults at Oak Hill Orthodontics.
Correction of orthodontic problems in adults can:
improve aesthetics for a better smile and facial appearance
improve self-confidence and self-esteem
correct relapse or shifting after orthodontic treatment
improve oral health
help prevent or improve periodontal problems
help prevent or reduce further bone loss around teeth
improve the ability to restore missing teeth
improve function of teeth
Early orthodontic treatment, commonly called Phase 1 Treatment, allows us to correct skeletal discrepancies or misalignment that, if not treated early, makes treatment more difficult in the future. Not every child needs early Phase 1 intervention treatment or two stages of treatment, but treating problems early can help to reduce the complexity or difficulty of treatment later on. After this early intervention, we monitor your child regularly to make sure the growth of the upper and lower jaws is ideal. This allows us to recommend the second stage of treatment, commonly called Phase 2 Treatment, when it actually becomes necessary. Phase 2 Treatment usually involves full correction of teeth.
The word “orthognathic” is derived from the Greek word “orthos” meaning straight, and “gnathos” meaning jaws. Orthognathic surgery is carried out to correct functional and esthetic problems with the jaws and bite.
In some patients, there is an underlying problem with the growth of the jaws that is causing a bite problem, and which orthodontic treatment alone will not completely correct the problem. For that reason, the orthodontist will recommend surgery in combination with orthodontic treatment. The orthodontist works closely with a maxillofacial surgeon to surgically correct the jaw growth problem in order to achieve the best outcome for esthetic and jaw function.
Many patients are fearful about the possibility of undergoing surgery to correct their jaw problem, and this is only natural. Nowadays orthognathic surgery is commonly performed and is a safe and reliable surgical procedure in the hands of experienced surgeons.
The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) covers the cost of surgery for the majority of patients that require orthognathic surgery.
The videos below show common surgical jaw procedures.
Early Loss of Baby Teeth