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What is an Orthodontist?

In much the same way as doctors choose to specialize in areas such as cardiology and neurology, dentists can also choose to specialize.  Orthodontics is a dental specialty which aims to prevent, diagnose and treat facial and dental irregularities, such as malocclusions (bad bites).  Many orthodontic practices are limited to dentofacial orthopedics and general orthodontics but can successfully treat patients of any age.

Orthodontists are fully qualified dentists who embark on a further three years of university-based study and gain extensive clinical experience in an orthodontic residency program.  The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is the regulating body for this branch of dentistry.  Selecting an orthodontist who is a member of this organization adds the assurance that treatment is being administered by an individual with specialty education in oral biology and biomechanics.  The AAO recommends that children should first be examined by the orthodontist around the age of seven, to ensure that jaw and tooth irregularities are not beginning to form.

What does an orthodontist do?

Orthodontists are experts in correcting misalignments of the teeth and jaw.  There are many debilitating problems associated with misalignment, for example, speech defects, difficulties chewing and difficulty maintaining adequate oral hygiene.

Here is a brief overview of some of the most common issues an orthodontist can successfully treat:

  • Anteroposterior deviations – Common examples of anteroposterior deviations include underbite (the lower teeth are positioned further forward than upper teeth) and overbite (the upper teeth are positioned further forward than the lower teeth).  Both of these deviations can cause difficulty articulating and chewing.

  • Overcrowding – Overcrowding is one of the most common problems orthodontists treat.  On occasion, lack of jawbone space means adult teeth cannot erupt in alignment with existing teeth.  The orthodontist is able to realign the teeth using a number of unobtrusive devices and treatments.

  • Aesthetic issues – In some cases, the shape of the whole face is negatively impacted by malocclusions or a bad bite.  The orthodontist can restructure and realign the jaw, lips and teeth to create a beautiful, even smile.

How does an orthodontist realign jaws and teeth?

Initially, the orthodontist conducts a thorough examination of the jaw and teeth.  Panoramic x-rays and study models (bite impressions) will be taken prior to the orthodontist making treatment recommendations.  The orthodontist will recommend the best treatment plan for the patient’s particular condition.

Here is a brief overview of some of the treatments orthodontists may use:

  • Dental braces – The combination of brackets (which are affixed to each individual tooth), and an archwire (which connects each bracket) are commonly placed to gently train the teeth into proper alignment.  Dental braces can be made of metal, ceramics or clear (“invisible”) materials.

  • Headgear and facemasks – These devices are generally used to correct a developmental problem, such as an overbite or an underbite.  In addition to the dental braces, the orthodontist will design the headgear and/or facemask which fit around the head and attaches to the braces.  This structure will further encourage the teeth and jawbone into alignment.

  • Retainers – After the orthodontist has realigned the teeth using dental braces, removable devices or a headgear, a retainer may then be provided to ensure that the teeth do not begin to move back toward their original positions.  Retainers are generally worn until the underlying bone has reformed into the correct position.

If you have any questions about orthodontists and the treatments they provide, please contact our office.

Testimonials

I can't say enough good things about Dr. Southworth and his entire staff! My two daughters needed a LOT of dental re-alignment, including headgear and recommendations for extractions and periodontal work. Dr. Southworth was one hundred percent up-front, realistic and supportive through all six years of work! He has such a caring approach with his patients, always putting them at ease with a genuine spirit, and patient, understandable explanations of all treatments and plans. I highly recommend Dr. Southworth and his caring staff for any orthodontic needs.

Karen O.

Search no further, you are fortunate to have found an orthodontist who will give it to you straight( pun intended).
Whatever your needs or goals for your child, Dr. Southworth can assist you in understanding all of your options- including the option to not get braces! He is not a salesperson but an extremely well educated and experienced Orthodontist who will offer you and your child a caring and well supported consultation. His inclusion of your child in this process is perfection.
If you do proceed with braces, a kind and supportive team will make the entire process a walk in the park. I had two children who had very different needs. Both had incredible outcomes.
In terms of value, his pricing cannot be beat. There is a well detailed, comprehensive arrangement laid out before services even begin- this means NO SURPRISES! Payment was easy with an extremely reasonable payment plan.
Having his office so convenient is vital for ongoing care and his team makes it incredibly easy to schedule, interface with your regular dentist, and manage all the intricacies of any insurance you may have. They are a pleasure to deal with and I can honestly say after dealing with them for many years, every interaction was a joy.
Choosing the right fit for your orthodontist is critical and we are so blessed to have Dr. Southworth in our area. Some of my friends were not as fortunate and in the end paid more in time, money and stress across the board.
If you are able to utilize his services, you will be more than pleased with both the process and the outcome!

Mary L., Sterling

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