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What is an Orthodontist?

By J.Gunsch
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An orthodontist is a dental specialist who works to prevent or correct misaligned teeth and jaws, which are called malocclusions or faulty occlusions. A person may seek this specialist's services for cosmetic reasons as well as health reasons. Beside the insecurity and low self esteem that dental irregularities may cause, they can also affect a person’s ability to chew and speak. Severely misaligned teeth and jaws can cause snoring, sleep apnea, and other breathing problems. An orthodontist is also instrumental in correcting the teeth and jaws in babies born with cleft lips or cleft palates.

It is estimated that more than half of the US population has misaligned or irregular teeth and jaws. The severity and types of these faulty occlusions differ in their presentations and include cross bites, open bites, over and under bites, and many more.

The techniques that an orthodontist uses depend on his or her diagnosis. Diagnoses are usually made by taking x-rays and by having the patient bite down onto a mold to determine the specific alignment of his or her teeth. Correction methods might include braces, retainers or other special devices to realign or guide incoming teeth. In severe malocclusions, the specialist may have to break the jaw bones and wire the jaw shut so that it heals better aligned.

The dental problems that may cause an adult or child to require dental services can be the result of many factors. Heredity, or dental problems that run in the family, is one of the biggest reasons. This can be because of the bone structure of the jaws, baby teeth that are lost too early, or overcrowding of the teeth. Other reasons include tooth decay and accidents or injuries, all of which affect the structure of the mouth.

An orthodontist can prevent dental irregularities in children by conducting exams before all of the permanent teeth erupt. A child should ideally have his or her first visit with a specialist around the age of seven, especially when there is a family history of crooked teeth and malocclusions. The early intervention takes advantage of the still growing bones of the jaw and pending eruption of the permanent teeth, and it can make future corrections take effect more smoothly and quickly.

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Discussion Comments

By anon338908 — On Jun 18, 2013

My dentist told me the greatest thing he learned in school was to brush his teeth before going to bed.

By anon253283 — On Mar 08, 2012

I have an overbite! I don't have an orthodontist. I don't think my dentist ever realized the overbite.

By anon138794 — On Jan 02, 2011

if you're getting braces, it's nothing. i got them three or four years ago. It hurt a little after, but it's really not bad, trust me.

By anon131205 — On Dec 01, 2010

I am getting braces in two weeks and am worried about the procedure.

By anon123367 — On Nov 01, 2010

I got braces in Gilbert, Arizona. They were painful for the first two weeks or so and then I stopped noticing them in my mouth all the time. I get them off three months from now! woohoo!

By anon96449 — On Jul 15, 2010

Ugh. I've had braces for like 14 months and i need them until may 2011! They're OK but i need a spring on my right side and bands and they hurt! oh well. i can't wait for great teeth! yay! i won't have them in high school!

By anon82809 — On May 07, 2010

I'm getting mine off during the summer and they really haven't bothered me at all! i mean they sort of hurt sometimes, but yeah it's all good. Don't be nervous!!

By anon80541 — On Apr 27, 2010

I want to be an orthodontist when i graduate college!

By anon69708 — On Mar 09, 2010

I'm going to be one when i graduate from college.

By anon68383 — On Mar 02, 2010

I have had braces for about a year now and I was pretty scared getting them at first. But honestly they don't really hurt as many people say they do.

I was told it was going to hurt so much, but after getting them it wasn't exactly "pain" I was feeling, it was just soreness. For the first couple of days it will be sore, but if you eat regularly then you'll get used to them. I'm used to my braces now, but time flies, so hopefully I get them off soon so I can have straight teeth.

The funny thing is I feel like I'm wearing a grill, so you'll see me shinin'!

By anon66067 — On Feb 17, 2010

well i've had my braces for a year now and 16 more months to go but i'm not tripping because after it all my teeth will be perfect.

By anon65284 — On Feb 12, 2010

do you get braces if teeth don't have permanent teeth under them because i went to the dentist on tuesday and now i have to go to an orthodontist. what other orthodontic treatments are there?

By anon65212 — On Feb 11, 2010

i have braces. as a matter of fact i got my teeth cleaned today. it feels great.

Ehh, braces aren't that bad to tell you the truth. i didn't think they hurt when i got them until the next morning when it hurt bad! they hurt for a good three, weeks then i got them tightened and they hurt for three days but now my teeth don't hurt anymore.

its been pretty much worth it. you know my teeth are going to be straight i can't wait to get them off!

By anon62696 — On Jan 28, 2010

I have had braces for almost over a year now. Plus, I have experienced head braces, oral extraction of impacted teeth, wisdom teeth removal - also impacted, and, I am getting my jaw broken and pulled forward. :) Should be fun, but, it's totally worth it. I'm at the point where I'm recovering from the wisdom teeth extraction, and expecting the major surgery very soon! :D

By anon62451 — On Jan 26, 2010

Hey guys,when you get braces be sure to take plenty of pain medicines because they will hurt! Maybe they won't hurt for you but they sure did hurt for me.

My teeth hurt for several weeks but then they stopped hurting until I got them tightened. After I got them tightened it hurt for a couple of days and then they recovered. By the way, it really hurts as you chew your food.

By anon62188 — On Jan 25, 2010

i have braces and it's not that bad. and it's really worth it! my teeth look a million percent better.

By anon61321 — On Jan 19, 2010

braces suck. not as bad as the retainers afterwards though.

By anon58935 — On Jan 05, 2010

i'm getting braces in two weeks and i'm very scared.

By anon58762 — On Jan 04, 2010

I had braces for three years and they weren't all that bad. but the retainers suck.

By anon56617 — On Dec 16, 2009

i am getting braces next week and i am actually so afraid i don't know what to do.

i'd like my teeth to be straight but i am afraid.

By anon53882 — On Nov 25, 2009

I had braces for about one year. My orthodontist was great and I'm happy I had them. You may not be saying that when you have them, but trust me -- it's well worth the wait.

By anon52062 — On Nov 11, 2009

i really want some braces but there's nothing wrong with my teeth!

By anon51815 — On Nov 09, 2009

I have braces and they are coming off next month! They are so worth it!

By anon51160 — On Nov 03, 2009

i had braces. it was worth the wait.

By anon49778 — On Oct 22, 2009

guys! braces are totally worth the wait. i just got mine off back in april and my teeth are beautiful and white! i love to smile all the time, so those of you who are complaining about them, don't! its really worth it. in the end you're going to be thankful you got them. :)

By anon47508 — On Oct 05, 2009

im getting braces in 2 weeks. :) i'm nervous.

By anon47498 — On Oct 05, 2009

i've had braces for a year already and this is my last year with them even thought i've still got a while to go till i have them removed. it's worth the wait. my teeth were nasty and crooked but now they're perfect. i can't wait till they're off and finally see my teeth without wires and brackets on them :)

By anon45909 — On Sep 21, 2009

my braces aren't that bad. they tighten them by changing out the wire for another one instead of using pliers to twist them. thank God. but the spacers were total hell for me!:(( but i totally forget i have braces most of the time, now. :))

By anon42922 — On Aug 24, 2009

Man's attempts to change his smile by using braces goes back thousands of years. Archaeologists have discovered mummies that had teeth that were "wired" for better alignment. Even Hippocrates, writing in 400 BC, described ways to make the teeth aligned better. Camarillo Orthodontist

By anon26247 — On Feb 10, 2009

depends on how bad your teeth are, but the orthodontist should give you a price before he does any procedures. with my orthodontist he gives me payment plans like with my insurance. it was going to be only $1000 after the insurance paid for it.

By anon24344 — On Jan 11, 2009

i have braces but i only need mine for a year....and i have like 4 months left and in the 8 months I've had them my teeth have changed a lot its worth it in the long run =D

By anon21105 — On Nov 10, 2008

i flippin hate my braces. i got then two weeks ago.

and wish i would not have. cause they make me look stupid. grr. i wanted those invisible things. but my mommy, said no. and i was very angry.

By anon18707 — On Sep 28, 2008

i had braces on for 3 years and my teeth were really bad and then after i got my braces off my teeth were perfectly straight and white! i love my teeth. I feel like a new person, i feel so confident about myself now! thank you dr. white for making my teeth look like they do today! :) it means a lot to me.

By anon13156 — On May 20, 2008

i had braces for three and a half years, i also had the HERBST appliance as well. Sucked, yes, but.. its all worth it in the end. You'll be smiling all the time and laughing at others who don't have straight teeth.

By anon11700 — On Apr 21, 2008

hahaha i have---HAD---braces!!! i got them off and now my teeth are so white (from teeth whitener) and straight!! in yo face!!!!

By anon8417 — On Feb 13, 2008

I had braces for 16 months, and it was well worth it. My teeth are straight and white. It is worth the time and effort.

By anon6797 — On Jan 09, 2008

i have braces...it stinks... =*[

BUT if you want str8 teeth =p or =D

By anon200 — On Apr 18, 2007

I would love to have nice straight teeth even though im 44 could you give me a rough price guide for this procedure just for the top set of teeth, i enquired about braces and was told it would be about £3000 for treatment.

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