There are times when you may go in for an appointment at your dentist's office only to be referred to an orthodontist. Why is this?
An orthodontist is a dental health practitioner just like a dentist, but they have specialist training in several areas. Succinctly put, you can consider all orthodontists as dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists. Here is a look at an orthodontist's two main areas of specialisation
1. Teeth Alignment
Malocclusions or misaligned teeth are a common problem across all age groups. An orthodontist is your best shot at correcting misaligned teeth that result in a bite that is a little off. A misaligned bite, be it an overbite or underbite, may cause problems during chewing and put a lot of strain on the affected jaw. If the misaligned bite is quite apparent, it may cause serious self-esteem issues.
Wearing functional orthodontic appliances such as braces and aligners such as Invisalign helps to align your teeth. Traditional braces may not always work for excessive jaw misalignment, in which case you may need headgear. Your orthodontist may, in some cases, recommend surgery as the best option to achieve teeth alignment. This is usually the case where the overbite or underbite is extreme.
2. Addressing Jawbone Problems
Does your jawbone hurt? Does it feel too tender? Do you hear a clicking or popping noise sound in your jaw when you open your mouth or when you are chewing? Jawbone problems can leave you in a lot of pain and can impair primary functions such as chewing and speech.
If you see any sign that is suggestive of some jawbone trouble, then you should rush to schedule an appointment with an orthodontist. While the most common jaw problem is the misalignment resulting in an overbite or underbite, an orthodontist is well equipped to handle any other issues you may be experiencing with your jawbone. These problems include temporal mandibular joint disorder, for which your orthodontist may recommend traditional braces or using jaw expanders. Severe jaw problems may call for corrective jaw surgery, also known as orthographic surgery.
There is a lot more that an orthodontist can do for you. This is, by far, not anywhere near an exhaustive list of the areas in which these dental specialists may be able to help you. You should speak to your orthodontist about your specific problems in order to get an effective and long-lasting solution.