What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontists dedicate their professional lives to creating healthy, beautiful smiles in children, teens and adults. Well-aligned teeth are more than attractive: they make it possible to bite, chew and speak effectively. The orthodontist not only has the training required to manage tooth movement (orthodontics) but to also guide facial development (known as dentofacial orthopedics). Orthodontic care is often part of a comprehensive oral health plan devised in conjunction with your general dentist and other dental specialists.

Who can call themselves an Orthodontist?

  • There are three steps in an orthodontist’s education: undergraduate university degree, dental school and an orthodontic residency program. It can take 10 or more years of education after high school to become an orthodontist. After completing an undergraduate degree, the prospective orthodontist attends dental school. Upon graduation from dental school, the future orthodontist must be accepted as a student in an accredited orthodontic program, then successfully complete an additional 2-3 years of full time graduate-level university study.
  • Only those who have successfully completed this formal education may call themselves “orthodontists.”
  • Orthodontists limit their scope of work to orthodontics only.
  • Orthodontists use a variety of appliances, including braces, clear aligner trays and retainers, to move teeth or hold them in their new positions. Because of orthodontists’ advanced education and clinical experience, they have the knowledge and skills necessary to recommend the best kind of appliance to meet every individual patient’s treatment needs.
  • Only orthodontists are eligible for membership in the Canadian Association of Orthodontists.

Who can benefit?

Both children and adults can benefit from orthodontic treatment. For children, orthodontics can help guide the developing teeth and jaws into their most efficient, functional and and esthetic positions. For adults, orthodontics can also help prevent periodontal problems, prevent or reduce bone loss around teeth, facilitate the ability of the dentist to restore missing teeth, enhance smile aesthetics and facial appearance, improve the function of teeth and improve overall oral health.

When should children be seen?

Orthodontic treatment in young children is known as interceptive orthodontics, and it can begin as early as age 6 or 7. At this age, teeth are still developing and the jaw is still growing. That means certain conditions, such as crowding, oral habits, jaw closure abnormalities, and some ‘bite’ issues may be easier to address in growing children. For this reason it is recommended that children have their first visit to the orthodontist by the age of 7.