An orthodontist is a medical professional that practices a branch of dentistry that is focused on identifying and treating dental or facial issues or irregularities. Orthodontists are the experts that you would see if you have gaps in your teeth or an irregular bite. In cases like those, an orthodontist would help to correct the gaps or the malocclusion (irregular bite) through the process of fitting a patient with braces, retainers, Invisalign, or some other corrective mouth wear in order to help straighten out teeth and move them back into the correct position in the mouth.
There are several reasons that you should seek out treatment from an orthodontist if you have issues with your teeth. If you have an irregular bite, then it is likely going to cause you to have issues chewing up food properly. This can affect the nutrition that a person is receiving if they are not able to correctly masticate their food. A bad bite can also cause pain in the jaw and mouth over time. It can lead to issues such as TMJ, chronic headaches, and even sleep apnea depending on how severe the issues are in the mouth. Orthodontics deals with creating treatment plans that can help reduce or even completely eliminate these issues that stem from the jaw and teeth.
An orthodontist is a person that has successfully completed 4 years of dental school just like a standard dentist would. As they near the completion of their schooling, they choose to specialize in the treatment and prevention of malocclusion (bad bite) as opposed to preventing tooth decay.
The most common dental issue that orthodontists address on a day to day basis is the application of braces to straighten and align uneven teeth. Braces used to be a treatment plan that was aimed solely at teenagers and young adolescents, but it has expanded in popularity and is now a popular treatment option for adults as well. Part of the reason for this is that teeth can often move around in the mouth throughout the entire lifetime of a person. So there are many cases where an adult will need treatment through braces or Invisalign for an uneven smile even if they had perfect teeth as a youth. The invention of Invisalign as also made orthodontic treatment more popular in adults. Now adults have the ability to straighten out their teeth in a discreet way.
Orthodontic treatments for a bad bite can typically take anywhere from 1 to 3 years to complete, but often a person will still need to continue to see an orthodontist periodically throughout the rest of their life. This is meant to be a way for them to check in on the positioning of their teeth and to correct any issues that the doctor may spot where the teeth have started to move again. Most doctors agree that if they stick to the treatment plan that is set forth by the Orthodontist that they will be done with their treatment much quicker and will not need any treatment in the future.