Names Orthodontist
Activity sectors Dentistry
Education required Dental Degree

Orthodontics, orthodontia, or orthodonture (from Greek orthos "straight or proper or perfect"; and odous "tooth") is the first specialty of dentistry that is concerned with the study and treatment of malocclusions (improper bites), which may be a result of tooth irregularity, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both. Orthodontic treatment can focus on dental displacement only, or can deal with the control and modification of facial growth. In the latter case it is better defined as "dentofacial orthopaedics". Orthodontic treatment can be carried out for purely aesthetic reasons with regards to improving the general appearance of patients' teeth. However, there are orthodontists who work on reconstructing the entire face rather than focusing exclusively on teeth.


History of orthodontics

Edward Angle was the first orthodontist—the first dentist to limit his practice to orthodontics only. He is considered the "father of modern orthodontics."

Modern Orthodontics

The use of digital models in orthodontics is rapidly increasing as the industry undergoes analog to digital conversions in record keeping. The University of Minnesota recently developed Three Dimensional Dental Models for Computer Automated Treatment Simulation that can be used to reduce the amount of human input needed for orthodontic treatment planning. This software tool has the ability to automatically segment teeth from one another and the gums. Digital laboratories are currenlty being used by many orthodontists, but can be very expensive. This software provides an efficient and cost-effective method for completing the segmentation process.[1]


For comprehensive orthodontic treatment, most commonly, metal wires (Juste) are inserted into orthodontic brackets (see dental braces), which can be made from stainless steel or a more aesthetic ceramic material. The wires interact with the brackets to move teeth into the desired positions. Other methods may include (1) invisalign. Invisalign consists of clear plastic aligners that 'level and align', but require more patient compliance than traditional braces. In most cases, invisalign is not a suitable replacement for traditional braces. (2) Suresmile, a dental treatment system that uses 3-D imaging and a robot to shorten the time to straight teeth.

Dental braces, with a powerchain, removed after completion of treatment.

Additional components—including removable appliances ("plates"), headgear, expansion appliances, and many other devices—may also be used to move teeth and jaw bones. Functional appliances, for example, are used in growing patients (age 5 to 14) with the aim of modifying the jaw dimensions and relationship if these are altered. This therapy, termed Dentofacial Orthopedics, is frequently followed by fixed multibracket therapy ("full braces") to align the teeth and refine the occlusion.

Hawley retainers are the most common type of retainers. This picture shows retainers for the top and bottom of the mouth.

Orthodontics is the study of dentistry that is concerned with the treatment of improper bites, and crooked teeth. Orthodontic treatment can help fix your teeth and set them in the right place. Orthodontists usually use braces and retainers to set your teeth.[2] There are, however, orthodontists who work on reconstructing the entire face rather than focusing exclusively on teeth. After a course of active orthodontic treatment, patients will typically wear retainers, which maintain the teeth in their improved positions while surrounding bone reforms around them. The retainers are generally worn full-time for a short period, perhaps six months to a year, then part-time (typically, nightly during sleep) for as long as the orthodontist recommends. It is possible for the teeth to stay aligned without regular retainer wear. However, there are many reasons teeth will crowd as a person ages, whether or not the individual ever experienced orthodontic treatment; thus there is no guarantee that teeth will stay aligned without retention. For this reason, many orthodontists prescribe part-time retainer wear for many years after orthodontic treatment.

Diagnosis and treatment planning

In diagnosis and treatment planning, the orthodontist must (1) recognize the various characteristics of a malocclusion or dentofacial deformity; (2) define the nature of the problem, including the etiology if possible;(3) design a treatment strategy based on the specific needs and desires of the individual; and (4) present the treatment strategy to the patient in such a way that the patient fully understands the ramifications of his/her decision.[3]

The New York Times has recently written that orthodontists are using Cone Beam CT too much in the diagnosis and treatment of orthodontic patients, leading to an unnecessary increased risk of cancer.[4]


Orthodontics was the first recognized specialty field within dentistry. Many countries have their own systems for training and registering orthodontic specialists. A two to three year period of full-time post-graduate study is required for a dentist to qualify as an orthodontist.

United States of America

The applicant must have completed or be a full-time student/resident in an advanced education program in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics which is approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the ADA. The "Advanced Standing Student - Standard #5," as recognized by the Commission of Dental Education, is eligible to make application upon the completion of their program. The applicant will submit with the application either a copy of the graduate orthodontic degree/certificate or a letter from the Program Director verifying the applicant's status.[5]

Certification Process
1. Application
2. Written Examination
3. Clinical Examination
4. Annual Fee


In the United Kingdom, this training period lasts three years, after completion of a membership from a Royal College. A further two years is then completed to train to consultant level, after which a fellowship examination from the Royal College is sat. In other parts of Europe, a similar pattern is followed. It is always worth contacting the professional body responsible for registering orthodontists to ensure that the orthodontist you wish to consult is a recognised specialist.


A number of dental schools and hospitals offer advanced education in the specialty of Orthodontics to dentists seeking postgraduate education. The courses range from two to three years (with the majority being 3 years) of full-time classes in the theoretical and practical aspects of orthodontics together with clinical experience. Generally, admission is based on an application process followed by an extensive interviewing process by the institution, in order to select the best candidates. Candidates usually have to contact the individual school directly for the application process.


In India, many dental colleges affiliated to universities offer orthodontics as specialization in Master of Dental Surgery ( M.D.S ) programme.The minimum qualification for M.D.S is Bachelor of Dental Surgery ( B.D.S ). The present course for MDS in Orthodontics stands at 3 years in all dental colleges in India which are recognised by the Dental Council of India.

The Indian Orthodontic Society was established in 1965. The Academy of Fixed Orthodontics, (AFO),[6] established in 2008, represents GP's and members from other dental specialties(Non Orthodontists) who practices orthodontics. AFO offers certification courses in Fixed Orthodontics for General Practitioners in Dentistry. AFO is not recognized by Indian Orthodontic Society, the official body of orthodontists in India which does not recognize non orthodontists who have taken certificate courses from non recognized bodies as Orthodontists. Only orthodontists who have done masters in orthodontics from recognised schools are allowed as members of Indian Orthodontic Society.

See also


  1. ^ Favreau, Annie. "Orthodontics Treaments Using Three Dimensional Model Simulation". Regents of the University of Minnesota. http://www.license.umn.edu/Products/Orthodontics-Treatment-using-Three-Dimensional-Model-Simulation__20100204.aspx. Retrieved 9/18/2011. 
  2. ^ Braces and Orthodontics. (n.d.). Retrieved November 2, 2010, from ADA: American Dental Association: http://www.ada.org/3061.aspx
  3. ^ T. M. Graber, R.L. Vanarsdall, Orthodontics, Current Principles and Techniques, "Diagnosis and Treatment Planning in Orthodontics", D. M. Sarver, W.R. Proffit, J. L. Ackerman, Mosby, 2000
  4. ^ Bogdanich, Walt (22 November 2010). "Radiation Worries for Children in Dentists' Chairs". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/23/us/23scan.html. 
  5. ^ American Board of Orthodontics. (n.d.). Retrieved November 2, 2010, from ABO Home: http://www.americanboardortho.com/
  6. ^ Academy Of Fixed Orthodontics

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Orthodontics — is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The technical term for these problems is malocclusion, which means bad bite. Orthodontics is one of the 8 specialties… …   Medical dictionary

  • orthodontics — n. (Med.) A branch of dentistry specializing in the treatment of the teeth so as to make the teeth align properly within the mouth; it usually involves fitting a patient with braces and sometimes oral surgery. [PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • orthodontics — 1909, from Mod.L. orthodontia (1849), from ORTHO (Cf. ortho ) + odon (gen. odontos) tooth (see TOOTH (Cf. tooth)). Orthodontist is attested from 1903 …   Etymology dictionary

  • orthodontics — ► PLURAL NOUN (treated as sing. ) ▪ the treatment of irregularities in the teeth and jaws. DERIVATIVES orthodontic adjective orthodontist noun. ORIGIN from Greek odous tooth …   English terms dictionary

  • orthodontics — [ôr΄thōdän′shə, ôr΄thōdän′shə, ôr΄thə dän′shē ə, ôr΄thə dän′shē əôr΄thə dän′tiks] n. [ModL: see ORTH(O) , ODONT, & ICS] the branch of dentistry concerned with diagnosing, correcting, and preventing irregularities of the teeth and poor occlusion:… …   English World dictionary

  • orthodontics — orthodontic, orthodontal, adj. orthodontist, n. /awr theuh don tiks/, n. (used with a sing. v.) the branch of dentistry dealing with the prevention and correction of irregular teeth, as by means of braces. [1905 10; ORTH + ODONT + ICS] * * * ▪… …   Universalium

  • orthodontics — noun plural but singular in construction Date: 1909 a branch of dentistry dealing with irregularities of the teeth (as malocclusion) and their correction (as by means of braces) • orthodontic adjective • orthodontically adverb • orthodontist noun …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • orthodontics — noun , A specialty of dentistry concerned with correcting misalignment of teeth …   Wiktionary

  • orthodontics — or|tho|don|tics [ˌo:θəˈdɔntıks US ˌo:rθəˈda:n ] n [U] [Date: 1900 2000; Origin: ortho straight (from Greek; ORTHODOX) + Greek odous tooth ] the skill or job of helping teeth to grow straight when they have not been growing correctly… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • orthodontics — or|tho|don|tics [ ,ɔrθə dantıks ] noun uncount the part of DENTISTRY that deals with making teeth straight ╾ or|tho|don|tic adjective …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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