Orthodontics for Adults


While most people associate orthodontic care with children and teenagers who need braces, it’s important to know that adults can receive treatment as well. Orthodontics can help adults whose teeth are crooked, or whose jaws are not correctly aligned. This misalignment can have serious consequences if left untreated, such as tooth decay, gum disease or problems chewing and speaking. An orthodontist’s job is to straighten these crooked or misaligned teeth and jaws. Typically, this is done by placing metal braces or other appliances on the teeth to move them into position. Afterward, the orthodontist may recommend wearing a retainer to ensure that your new, straightened teeth don’t begin to drift back toward their old positions. Some orthodontists specialize in treating specific issues, such as overbites and underbites, overlapping teeth, overcrowding of the teeth or large spaces between them, open bites, cross bites and jaw issues (including temporomandibular disorders or TMD). Others focus on general orthodontic care for adults and children. If you have a crooked smile, the first step is to see your dentist, who can refer you to an orthodontist if necessary. You should also visit your orthodontist if you have jaw pain, as this is often a sign of TMD. Once you have been referred to an orthodontist, the appointment is very similar to one with a dentist. You will sit in the waiting room until your name is called and you enter the exam room. Unlike general dentists, orthodontists have extensive training in the diagnosis and correction of dental malocclusion. After receiving a college degree, orthodontists spend four years at an accredited dental school. After graduating, they spend two or three additional years in an orthodontic residency program, which teaches them how to correct malocclusions and other related problems using dental braces and other appliances. An orthodontist who has completed this training is a board certified specialist in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. Because of their additional education and training, orthodontists can offer patients a higher level of care than most general dentists. This includes diagnosing and correcting a wide variety of crooked teeth and jaw problems, as well as offering preventative services to keep the mouth healthy until the adult teeth come in. During your initial consultation, the orthodontist will examine your teeth and jaws to determine whether they are misaligned. This will include a visual examination and digital X-rays of your teeth. Depending on the severity of your case, the orthodontist will suggest a course of treatment. Generally, this will include orthodontic braces or other appliances such as palatal expanders. orthodontiste

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