Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that treats malocclusion, a condition in which the teeth are not correctly positioned when the mouth is closed. This results in an improper bite.

An orthodontist specializes in making the teeth straight.

Treatment can be cosmetic, to impro15ve a person’s appearance, but it often aims to improve oral function, too.

Who should see an orthodontist?

If the jaws and teeth do not develop properly, malocclusion can result. The teeth will be crooked and misaligned, and the bottom and top sets of teeth may not line up.

Malocclusion is not a disease and it does not affect physical health. It is a variation in the position of teeth. However, it may impact the shape of the face and the appearance of the teeth, resulting in embarrassment, a lack of self-confidence, and even depression.

Reasons include injury to the teeth or facial bones and frequent thumb or finger sucking, among others.

Share on Pinterest orthodontist can provide a night-time mouth guard to stop people clenching and grinding their teeth. A severe malocclusion may affect eating, speech, and keeping the teeth clean.

Orthodontic treatment can help treat or improve the following:

Protruding front teeth: Treatment can improve the appearance and protects the teeth from damage during sports injuries or falls.

Crowding: In a narrow jaw, there may not be enough space for all the teeth. The orthodontist may remove one or more teeth to make room for the others.

Impacted teeth: This can happen when the adult tooth does not emerge from the gum or bone or only emerges partially.

Asymmetrical teeth: The upper and lower teeth do not match, especially when the mouth is closed but the teeth are showing.

Deep bite, or overbite: When the teeth are clenched, the upper ones come down too far over the lower ones.

Reverse bite: When the teeth are clenched, the upper teeth bite inside the lower ones.

Open bite: When the teeth are clenched, there is an opening between the upper and lower teeth.

Underbite: The upper teeth are too far back, or the lower teeth are too far forward.

Crossbite: At least one of the upper teeth does not come down slightly in front of the lower teeth when the teeth are clenched. They are too near the cheek or the tongue.

Spacing: There are gaps or spaces between the teeth, either because a tooth is missing, or the teeth do not fill up the mouth. This is the opposite of crowding.

An orthodontist can also help solve problems such as the grinding or clenching of teeth and clicking or moving of the jaw.

Thumb or finger sucking can cause the teeth and supporting bone to become misshapen. To see a natural improvement, the thumb-sucking habit must first be.

Starting treatment

Share on PinterestGood oral hygiene practices are essential when using orthodontic devices, as there is an additional risk of food sticking to the device or the teeth.

Treatment usually starts around the age of around 12 or 13 years, when the adult teeth have come through and developed fully.

If problems do not emerge until later, the treatment may begin at a later date. In 2014, nearly 1.5 million adults received orthodontic treatment in the United States, according to the American Assocation of Orthodontists (AAO).

Children with a cleft lip and palate may require orthodontic treatment before their adult teeth have developed completely.

Good oral hygiene is essential before any orthodontic work can begin. When devices are placed on the teeth, food particles are more likely to become stuck. The individual will need to brush much more carefully and more often to prevent tooth decay during treatment.

Without good oral hygiene practices, there is a risk of tooth decay during treatment. The orthodontist may also recommend avoiding fizzy drinks, sugary snacks, and other items that can lead to tooth decay.


The orthodontist will assess the state of the person’s teeth and predict how they are likely to develop without treatment.

The assessment will involve:

  • Taking a full medical and dental health history
  • Carrying out a clinical examination
  • Taking x-rays of the teeth and jaw
  • Making plaster models of the teeth