Orthodontics: What and Why?
When it comes to the dental profession, there can be a bit of confusion about what exactly different titles mean. This is completely understandable, since we share many common goals. Most centrally, each branch strives to keep people healthy and happy with the way they look and feel. We begin to diverge when it comes to the ways in which we accomplish this; each branch has its own extensive body of knowledge attached that makes its mastery a lifelong commitment. The mouth is a complicated place, and the best way to care for it is with multiple specialists who, combined, run the gamut of dental knowledge. Of course, each individual dentist knows a great deal about the field generally, but let’s dig into those specializations that go beyond the general and do a little defining.
General Dentists (DDS)
A general dentist can be compared to a primary care doctor in medicine. These doctors perform dental and oral health care services like teeth cleaning, cavity filling, root canals, etc. Some dentists may treat certain diseases of dental tissues that threaten the retention of a patient’s teeth and oral hygiene. As you might have guessed, general dentists have obtained a doctorate and have gone through a substantial licensure process. They know what they’re doing, and you should be seeing your own general dentist regularly to keep an eye on your oral health.
Periodontists and Maxillofacial Surgeons
These more specialized forms of dentistry generally require three or more years of postdoctoral study to get into. Most people will never see a periodontist or maxillofacial surgeon, but their work is incredibly important to those who need their expertise. A periodontist specializes in the care of what’s called periodontium, such as alveolar bone, gums, and ligaments. Mostly, they help fight periodontal diseases that are the result of bacterial infections and inflammation. Maxillofacial surgeons specialize in surgical care for periodontium and other facial bones. They often see patients who’ve had facial injuries resulting from physical trauma, bacterial infections, and cancers of the neck or mouth.
This is what we do at Cooper Orthodontics (you might have guessed that from the name)! Besides general dentists, orthodontists are the most commonly seen dental professionals. That’s because we deal principally with the diagnosis, prevention, and correction of misaligned teeth and jaws. Many people suffer from these problems, and we offer a host of solutions to help you to a smile that you can be proud of. By using tools like Invisalign, we shape up bunched or gapped teeth, bringing them to pleasant uniformity.
Why Orthodontics Matter for You
When a patient comes in for his or her free initial consultation, our team will precisely diagnose current or probable issues with alignment, and offer solutions that fit comfortably with your lifestyle. Many times, our patients need these treatments to avoid physically painful symptoms.
Plaque Build-Up and Tooth Decay
Crooked teeth and malocclusions (irregular bites) can lead to more contact between teeth where there shouldn’t be, and that can mean plaque build-up and tooth decay. Ultimately, these problems lead to increased chances that tooth removal or surgery is necessary. Nobody wants that, right?
Grinding and Loss of Gum Tissue/Bone
Many malocclusions result in teeth grinding together uncomfortably, which can lead to chipping and tooth degradation. It’s important to identify and stop these habits early if possible, and provide solutions for those who grind their teeth unconsciously during the night. Other malocclusions result in increased pressure on certain teeth, and the corresponding gum tissue and bone. This often leads to painful gum inflammation, and can even damage underlying bones, which might mean more serious problems down the road.
Along with these and other physical symptoms, orthodontic issues can also seriously affect a patient psychologically. These effects are not to be taken lightly, and can be as damaging as the above-listed physical challenges. For many, the development of crooked teeth at a young age shapes the way they think about their smile, and ultimately their self-image. Many learn not to smile when they feel like it. To prevent both physical and psychological effects, Cooper Orthodontists provides non-invasive solutions like Invisalign aligners and traditional braces. With minimal discomfort, we can shape things up. It’s what we do, and we love to see our patients’ bigger, brighter smiles that result from treatment.
Come and See Us!
Outside of visits to your general dentist, we recommend regular check-ins with an orthodontist to ensure a straight, healthy set of teeth. Regular check-ins may allow us to prevent problems before they get very far along, especially in adolescents and children. It all starts with an initial consultation; we’d love to see you! Give our Houston office a call at 832.925.8721, drop us a line at [email protected], or visit us at cooperorthodontics.com. See you soon!