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The term "orthodontics" can be broken down into two Greek words - "orthos" meaning straight or correct and "dontics" meaning teeth. Orthodontics therefore describes the practice of straightening misaligned teeth or malocclusions. Dentists who specialize in orthodontics can help manage abnormal positioning of the teeth, jaws and face.

Some of the dental malocclusions that may be corrected by orthodontics include:

  • Crowded teeth - Crowding of teeth or poor alignment of teeth that may be too large for the mouth. This leads to a poor bite as well as an unsightly appearance. The most common teeth to crowd are the upper canine teeth.
  • An open bite - This occurs when the lower end of the upper front teeth do not touch the upper end of the lower front teeth. This leads to insufficient chewing.
  • Deep over bite - This describes when the top and bottom front teeth are not aligned and the bottom teeth tend to touch the roof of the mouth, sometimes damaging the gums and the palate. This may lead to gum damage, gum diseases, tooth loss and tooth wear.
  • Cross bite - This occurs when the teeth ends do not meet. It leads to poor appearance, insufficient chewing and easily erodible teeth.
  • Increased overjet - This describes when the upper teeth protrude and may result from thumb or finger sucking. This may also be due to uneven jaw bone growth.
  • Reverse overjet - The lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper jaw. Aside from poor cosmetic appearance, it can lead to worn teeth.
  • Spacing - Unnatural spacing between teeth may result from poorly developed, smaller or missing teeth..


Braces gradually shift your teeth into their desired positions over time using a combination of brackets, bands and wires. There are different types of braces depending on your needs, including traditional metal braces and clear (ceramic) braces.


Clear orthodontic aligners are a popular alternative to braces. Well-known brands include Invisalign® and ClearCorrect®. Rather than using brackets and wires to straighten your teeth, these systems use a series of custom-made, clear aligner trays. You wear each set of trays for one to two weeks before switching them out for the next set in the series. Over time, the clear aligners shift your teeth into their proper positions.


If you wear braces or clear aligners, you’ll need a retainer once your orthodontic treatment ends. A retainer is a custom oral appliance that keeps your teeth from drifting out of their proper positions. Your orthodontist can tell you how often you’ll need to wear your retainer to maintain the results of treatment.


Orthodontists recommend some treatments during childhood. This is because a child’s facial bones are still developing and they’re much easier to move and manipulate. A palate (palatal) expander helps to widen a child’s upper jaw. Most children don’t need palate expanders. But under the right circumstances, these devices can create extra space without the need for tooth extractions or other procedures.


A. How long will my results last after orthodontic treatment?

If you wear your retainer as directed, your results should last the rest of your life. However, if you stop wearing your retainer, your teeth could drift back into their old positions over time.

B. What are the disadvantages of orthodontics?

The main disadvantage is short-term: You’ll have to follow treatment guidelines closely and be patient until you reach your goal. For some people, orthodontic treatment takes less than one year. For others, it can take up to two years or longer. Because every person has their own unique needs, treatment times look different for everyone.

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