Orthodontics is a specialization within the field of dentistry that requires additional training and certification. Orthodontic treatment involves correcting malocclusion, which is the misalignment of a bite or incorrect spacing between teeth. This is usually accomplished through the use of orthodontic braces or clear aligners . The cost of orthodontics can vary depending on the materials used, the treatment plan, and even location.
The Orthodontic Evaluation
If you are a candidate for orthodontics, you will likely be referred by your general dentist to an orthodontist for evaluation of your bite. During your first orthodontic visit, your orthodontist may use several methods to develop an individualized treatment plan, including:
- Oral, facial and functional evaluation (examination).
- Intraoral and facial photographs.
- Panoramic and cephalometric X-rays.
- Impressions for models of the teeth and bite.
An orthodontist reviews your dental records, performs a clinical assessment, takes X-rays of your mouth and head and makes models of the teeth by creating an accurate impression of them. The results of this evaluation are studied in order to formulate the best orthodontic treatment plan.
Typically during the second visit, your orthodontist reviews the treatment plan and estimates the number of months for the active phase of treatment. The standard treatment phase is two years. Following treatment, you may be required to wear a retainer for a period of time.
The duration of orthodontic treatment varies based on your age, the extensiveness of the procedure (some people require more work than others) and how closely you follow your treatment plan. For example, younger patients may respond more quickly to treatment than older patients because the bones supporting young teeth are more pliable than those supporting older teeth. However, adults tend to follow treatment instructions more consistently than pre-teens.
In some cases the treatment time is longer. For example, oral surgery and recovery may be needed before or during orthodontic treatment.