Orthodontics is a specialist area of dental medicine. It focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of tooth and jaw misalignments. The equipment and appliances involved in treatment are commonly referred to as “dental braces”.
Orthodontics, formally orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, is the first specialty of dentistry that is concerned with the study and treatment ofmalocclusions (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".
Basic training in orthodontics is part of the study of dentistry. A thorough knowledge of facial growth and jaw development are prerequisites for early detection and correction of malformations. After completion of a degree in dental medicine, graduates have the possibility of following a specialist course in orthodontic dentistry over several years in the orthodontics department of a teaching hospital. After passing the final examination, the title of “Specialist in Orthodontics (Switzerland)” is awarded.
Preventive orthodontic procedures can be carried out by a general dental practitioner or school dentist. Orthodontic treatment belongs in the hands of specialists who have undergone the additional training mentioned above and gained the required know-how in corrective treatment of tooth and jaw misalignments.