Orthodontics is a specialized branch of dentistry that diagnoses, prevents, and treats dental and facial irregularities called malocclusions. Orthodontics includes dentofacial orthopedics, which is used to correct problems involving the growth of the jaw.
Humans have attempted to straighten teeth for thousands of years before orthodontics became a dental specialty in 1900. Although orthodontic treatment often improves facial appearance and occasionally is performed for solely cosmetic reasons, it is used primarily to correct health problems and to ensure the proper functioning of the mouth. Properly aligned teeth, which close together correctly, simplify oral hygiene and enable children to chew their food efficiently. Orthodontic treatment provides the following:
straightens teeth that are rotated, tilted, or otherwise improperly aligned
corrects crowded or unevenly spaced teeth
corrects bite problems
aligns the upper and lower jaws
Few children have perfectly symmetrical teeth and a perfect bite. In an ideal bite, the following are characteristics:
All of the teeth fit easily without crowding or spacing.
The teeth are not rotated, twisted, or leaning forward or backward.
The teeth of the upper jaw slightly overlap those of the lower jaw.
The points of the molars fit into the grooves of the opposite molars.
Types of malocclusions include the following:
crowded, crooked, or misaligned teeth
extra or missing teeth
jaws that are out of alignment
Margaret Alic PhD, Thomson Gale, Gale, Detroit,