Orthodontists are dentists who help patients whose teeth are misaligned. They do this through the use of trays, retainers or braces.
How to Become an Orthodontist
A person first has to have a dental degree such as the Doctor of Medical Dentistry, or DMD or Doctor of Dental Surgery, or DDS. Different dental schools have different requirements to come an orthodontist. In the University of Western Ontario, the 36 month course requires the student to study biostatistics, physiology, head and neck anatomy and oral pathology, then deliver a thesis of defense. After that, the student gets a Master of Clinical Dentistry. In the University of Alberta’s MSc Whitby orthodontics program, the student must have a DDS degree or its equivalent and have completed at least a year working as a licensed dentist. Then, they must complete such courses as Oral Biology I and II, Growth and Development, Introduction to Applied Statistics and attend orthodontic clinics and seminars.
When a dentist has completed their training and becomes an orthodontist, they may join a board such as the Canadian Association of Orthodontists. An orthodontist practices exclusively in their field.
Orthodontic Devices: Braces
Braces are somewhat more comfortable to wear than they were 40 years ago. The brackets are lighter and smaller, and can be tooth colored, which makes them hard to see. Some patients opt for lingual braces. These are braces that are fitted at the backs of the teeth instead of the front. An orthodontist has to have special training to fit lingual braces, and patients need to take even more care of them than traditional braces.
Braces are customized for each patient. This is especially true of lingual braces, which are designed by a special computer. Most patients need to wear their braces anywhere from six months to three years. After they’re removed, the orthodontist gives the patient a retainer to keep their teeth in alignment. The length of time a person needs to wear a retainer varies from patient to patient.
Invisalign is a system where the patient is fitted with smooth, clear plastic trays that have been custom-made for them. The trays are changed every two weeks or so as the patient’s bite comes into alignment. Invisalign trays are worn 23 hours a day, and the thing that attracts patients to them is that they can take the trays out to eat or brush their teeth. Orthodontists like Invisalign because they make it easier for the patient to take better care of their teeth, are hard to see and are more comfortable than traditional braces. Patients wear Invisalign for about the same amount of time as braces.
Orthodontics is a constantly fascinating and evolving dental specialty. Both dentists and patients work together to correct the patient’s bite and improve their smile.