When we have something wrong with our teeth, the first thing to do is see our dentist. Depending on the exact nature of the problem, we may be referred to one of the many dental specialists handling different types of dentistry, or our general dentist may recommend a specific treatment. If you have problems with the outside of your teeth, including spacing, bite issues, tooth grinding, and other such problems, then that type of issue is covered under the specialty of orthodontics.
What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a dental specialization that deals entirely with the outside area of the tooth. While certain other specialties deal with how the tooth looks, cosmetic dentistry, or fixing a damaged tooth, restorative dentistry and orthodontics focus on ensuring the tooth functions the way it is supposed to and is not damaged in the process.
You’ve probably heard about going to an orthodontist. An orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in orthodontics. Most people are sent to one when they have an issue with their teeth that need correcting. Orthodontists work not only with the teeth but also with the jaw to ensure that the joints of the jaw are aligned properly and to correct certain conditions.
Anything relating to teeth position, whether the mouth is open or closed as well as the position of the jawbone and whether or not the joints function properly falls into the category of orthodontics, meaning they are responsible for many of the issues people suffer from.
Types of Orthodontic Treatments
The most common orthodontic issue that requires treatment is tooth spacing issues, and the most common solution is braces. Many teens and young adults have issues with the positioning of their teeth and have to have braces or aligners installed to correct the problems. This can range from mild crowding to overbites, underbites, malocclusions, and more.
There are also conditions, such as TMJ, which affect whether a person can open or close the mouth properly. While this sometimes requires oral surgery, most of the time, an orthodontic solution is to treat it with a neurotoxin injection such as Botox or with a dental application such as a mouth guard that shifts the position of the joints to relax the jaw.
Orthodontics also covers dental applications like bite guards, night guards, and sports guards designed to protect the teeth and prevent issues like tooth grinding and clenching of the jaw, which can lead to TMJ and fractures in teeth.