Orthodontics means straightening teeth; literary translated from the Latin words Ortho (straight) and Dente (tooth). But in practice orthodontics is more than just straightening teeth. It is the science of teeth and jaw anomalies, which can be but not exhaustive to, the following problems;
Overcrowding, crookedness of teeth, spacing between teeth, Impaction (tooth stuck in jaw bone), missing teeth, congenitally missing or lost due to trauma, and more.
Overbite, under bite, open bite, deep bite, cross bite with and without jaw displacement and under developed jaws.
Correction of any of the above problems requires deep knowledge of the subject and evidence-based experience. An orthodontist has completed a 3-year university degree after becoming a dentist and working for some years in general dentistry.
An orthodontic consultation is always necessary for diagnostic and includes always a thorough evaluation of teeth and jaw problems with specialised X-ray examination, photographs and study models. These are requirements for and the base for a correct diagnosis of anomalies which are essential for a correct treatment plan.
A specialist orthodontist does not only straighten teeth but also eliminates the above-mentioned jaw problems to normalise the bite which is essential for normal jaw functions including chewing and talking. Severe jaw anomalies require often co-operation between an orthodontist and an oral surgeon.
Treatment of children with jaw problem requires knowledge and experience from dentofacial orthopaedics which is included in the training program for orthodontic speciality. This includes prediction of facial growth which is an important part of treatment planning and to maintain treatment results long term.
Simply said, an orthodontist is the ultimate expert in correcting teeth and jaw problems.