Questions You Might Have About Seeing an Orthodontist

If your family dentist has recommended you see an orthodontist, you might wonder why this is necessary and what you have to look forward to when it comes to braces or other such devices. While only your dentist or orthodontist can answer your questions specifically, you might note some general questions that many people have about seeing an orthodontist. This can help you understand what to expect and know why their treatments or procedures are so important.

What is the difference between orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry?

Orthodontics refers to the treatment of irregularities or deformities of the teeth. This often means braces, which nudge teeth into position over a period of time. In turn, the actual jaw line is reshaped. This might be done for problems such as an overbite, even if the teeth themselves are relatively straight.

Cosmetic dentistry is concerned with the appearance of the teeth. A cosmetic dentist may use procedures such as drilling or filing down a tooth and then covering it with bonding or veneers to make it look straight, without actually pushing or nudging it into a different position. Cosmetic dentistry procedures can help some deformities of the teeth by reshaping them with these processes, but typically this doesn't involve reshaping the jaw itself.

Why are orthodontics needed for the health of teeth?

If your dentist has recommended that you see an orthodontist and has stressed this need for the health of your teeth, note that teeth need to rest on each other to support the jaw muscles. Very crooked teeth can also rub against each other and cause erosion or wear down the enamel, which can lead to damage to the tooth or even tooth loss. An orthodontist can address these problems by reshaping the line of teeth and ensuring your mouth and jaw are healthy and strong.

Can't a dentist apply braces?

Note that applying a full set of braces is not always the only procedure done by an orthodontist; after a thorough examination, he or she may determine that you only need a partial set of braces on certain teeth, or another type of orthodontic appliance. Applying and then adjusting braces also takes skill, and an orthodontist will know how to tighten them just enough to nudge your teeth into place without causing excessive discomfort or damage to the teeth. While a dentist may have some knowledge of how to do these things, an orthodontist specialises in these types of procedures, so it's usually best to have them apply braces and other such treatments.