October 13, 2017

Orthodontics and Orthodontia – A Brief Overview

Orthodontia is the field of dentistry that focuses on teeth and jaw abnormalities. Orthodontics refers to the devices, such as braces. Specialists use these to help address teeth and jaw related issues. Orthodontists are the specialists who work in this branch of dentistry.

Many people have teeth that are naturally straight and fit together well. However, those with problems such as an overbite or teeth that are too far apart may need help from an orthodontist.

Orthodontics Devices

Orthodontic devices, such as braces, help to do the following:

  • Straighten crooked or misaligned teeth
  • Correct problems related to “bite” – the way teeth come together
  • Close any gaps between teeth
  • Ensure the lips and teeth are properly aligned
orthodontics and orthodontia help keep teeth healthy

Having healthy teeth can be a help in other parts of life, as well.

Kids are not the only ones who get orthodontics treatment such as braces. Many adults get braces, as well.

However, many kids get orthodontic treatment to help ensure the jaw grows properly. When the jaw grows as expected, permanent teeth have a better chance of growing in correctly.

Having straight permanent teeth can also help to prevent future oral health problems. And, of course, having healthy teeth can be a help in other parts of life, as well.

Learn how to keep your teeth healthy and strong.

Orthodontic Headgear

In some cases, braces alone may not be enough to change the way teeth and jaw grow. For these situations, orthodontists may recommend wearing orthodontic headgear. People wear this type of device outside of the mouth to provide added traction.

Headgear can help move teeth into a better position and keep them from shifting. Typically, orthodontic headgear is only worn while at home, such as in the evening or while you’re sleeping.


A retainer is a custom-made orthodontic device that may be either fixed in place or removable. Retainers attach to teeth to help hold them in position.

People usually wear a retainer after a full treatment with braces.  However, sometimes orthodontists prescribe them to treat teeth without also using braces.

Whether used alone or with braces, retainers help keep teeth correctly positioned. They are typically made of plastic or rubber and have metal wires that cover the teeth.

For post-braces care, patients should wear their retainer at all times for the first six months, then usually only while sleeping.

Learn more about orthodontia.

Read next: Depression and a Healthy Smile: Break the Cycle


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