What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is specifically concerned with diagnosing and treating tooth misalignment and irregularity in the jaw area.

Orthodontics is one of many dental specialities.  The word “orthodontics” is derived from the Greek words ‘orthos’, meaning proper or straight and ‘odons’ meaning teeth.  Orthodontics is specifically concerned with diagnosing and treating tooth misalignment and irregularity in the jaw area.

Initially, orthodontic treatments were geared toward the treatment of teens and pre-teens, but these days around 30% of orthodontic patients are adults.

There are many advantages to well-aligned teeth, including easier cleaning, better oral hygiene, clearer speech and a more pleasant smile.

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Girl getting braces tightened

What problems can be treated with orthodontics?


Anteroposterior deviations

The discrepancy between a pair of closed jaws is known as an anteroposterior discrepancy or deviation.  An example of such a discrepancy would be an overbite (where the upper teeth are further forward than the lower teeth), or an underbite (where the lower teeth are further forward then the upper teeth).



Overcrowding is a common orthodontic problem. It occurs when there is insufficient space for the normal growth and development of adult teeth.


Aesthetic problems

A beautiful straight smile may be marred by a single misaligned tooth. This tooth can be realigned with ease and accuracy by the orthodontist.

Alternatively, orthodontists can also work to reshape and restructure the lips, jaw or face.

Orthodontic Solutions

Orthodontics is a technologically advanced field that offers many sophisticated solutions to malocclusions and other cosmetic problems. 

The orthodontist will generally perform a visual examination, panoramic x-rays and study models (bite impressions) in order to assess the exact nature of the discrepancy.

When a diagnosis has been made, there are a variety of orthodontic treatment options available.


Fixed orthodontic braces

A metal or ceramic dental base is affixed to each tooth, and a dental wire is inserted through each base.  

The orthodontist is able to gradually train the teeth into proper alignment by regularly adjusting the wire. 

When the desired results are achieved, the fixed dental braces are completely removed.


Removable appliances

There is a wide range of removable appliances commonly used in orthodontics.

These include Clark Twin Blocks and Swartz Plates which assist in improving the positioning of the teeth whilst the jaw is still growing, headgear which helps to correct an overbite and Hawley retainers which can help to keep teeth in place post treatment.



This is a newer, removable type of dental aligner that is completely transparent. 

Invisalign® does not interfere with eating because of its removable nature, and mechanically works in the same way as the traditional metal dental braces. 

Not all patients are candidates for Invisalign®.