What is an Orthodontist?

In much the same way as doctors choose to specialize in areas such as cardiology and neurology, dentists can also choose to specialize.  Orthodontics is a dental specialty which aims to prevent, diagnose and treat facial and dental irregularities, such as malocclusions (bad bites).  Many orthodontic practices are limited to dentofacial orthopedics and general orthodontics but can successfully treat patients of any age.

Orthodontists are fully qualified dentists who embark on an additional two to three years of university-based study and gain extensive clinical experience in an orthodontic residency program.  The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is the regulating body for this branch of dentistry.  Selecting an orthodontist who is a member of this organization adds the assurance that treatment is being administered by an individual with specialty education in oral biology and biomechanics.  The AAO recommends that children should first be examined by the orthodontist around the age of seven, to ensure that jaw and tooth irregularities are not beginning to form.

What does an orthodontist do?

Orthodontists are experts in correcting misalignments of the teeth and jaw.  There are many debilitating problems associated with misalignment, for example, speech defects, difficulties chewing and difficulty maintaining adequate oral hygiene.

Here is a brief overview of some of the most common issues an orthodontist can successfully treat:

  • Anteroposterior deviations – Common examples of anteroposterior deviations include underbite (the lower teeth are positioned farther  forward than upper teeth) and overbite (the upper teeth are positioned farther  forward than the lower teeth).  Both of these deviations can cause difficulty articulating and chewing.

  • Overcrowding – Overcrowding is one of the most common problems orthodontists treat.  On occasion, lack of jawbone space means adult teeth cannot erupt in alignment with existing teeth.  The orthodontist is able to realign the teeth using a number of unobtrusive devices and treatments.

  • Aesthetic issues – In some cases, the shape of the whole face is negatively impacted by malocclusions or a bad bite.  The orthodontist can restructure and realign the jaw, lips and teeth to create a beautiful, even smile.

How does an orthodontist realign jaws and teeth?

Initially, the orthodontist conducts a thorough examination of the jaw and teeth.  Panoramic X-rays and study models (bite impressions) will be taken prior to the orthodontist making treatment recommendations. The orthodontist will recommend the best treatment plan for the patient’s particular condition.

Here is a brief overview of some of the treatments orthodontists may use:

  • Dental braces – The combination of brackets (which are affixed to each individual tooth), and an archwire (which connects each bracket) are commonly placed to gently train the teeth into proper alignment.  Dental braces can be made of metal, ceramics or clear (“invisible”) materials.

  • Headgear and facemasks – These devices are generally used to correct a developmental problem, such as an overbite or an underbite.  In addition to the dental braces, the orthodontist will design the headgear and/or facemask which fits around the head and attaches to the braces.  This structure will further encourage the teeth and jawbone to align.

  • Retainers – After the orthodontist has realigned the teeth using dental braces, removable devices or a headgear, a retainer may then be provided to ensure that the teeth do not move back to their original positions.  Retainers are generally worn until the underlying bone has reformed into the correct position.

If you have any questions about orthodontists and the treatments they provide, please contact our office.

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Testimonials

Dr Johnson put braces on me a little over a year ago and I honestly can't say anything but good stuff about her and her staff. She's a straight shooter that shoots from the hip and tells you like it is and let's you know upfront what the process will be like and what she'll try her best to accomplish but she will tell you that she's not a magician either. For me that sealed the deal and won my business and friendship then and there. She doesn't over promise and under deliver, instead she's realistic about things and tells you she'll do her best which is all anyone can do or expect someone to do. I am extremely pleased with her best thus far and I still have a little bit left before they come off. She's made my entire process as convenient and painless as possible and I've yet to have anything break, come loose, or poke me. In fact the worst part was figuring out how to eat the first few days of having them on and not being able to bite my nails after 39 years of doing so. Dr Johnson is first class all the way around and does top notch work! I highly recommend her to anyone of any age that is needing braces. She had her work cut out for her with me when she did her initial consultation and 14 months after putting them on she's already over delivered from what I was expecting and she's not finished yet! I have no doubts whatsoever that I chose the perfect orthodontist for me everytime I look in the mirror and smile, or someone else compliments her work when I have my regular cleaning and check ups with my dentist. Siler City is a better place because of her and her services being there for those who need them!

Chris C.

Dr Johnson explain every step they are going to do. My granddaughter was not scared at all. Rosa is a very pleasant and caring person with the kids she also explains the steps that will be going on.

Betty M.

I made an appointment with Chatham Orthodontist for my 6 yr old who has an underbite and grinds her teeth. The receptionist was very friendly when I called to inquire about treatment. She explained to me how my insurance would work and what my option would be. When I arrived she was very friendly and ready for us. Dr. Johnson was great, also really friendly and very thorough. She explained what she thought best and why ans gave me a plan of action. When I mentioned my concern for my other child, she made time to fit him in for an initial consult as well. Again with him she was very thorough. The office experience was friendly and welcoming without being pushy. I left feeling very good about the care of my children’s teeth. I would definitely recommend this office!

Camila M.

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