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Which Type of Doctor Specializes In Teeth and Jaw Alignment? (And Why You Should Care)

By Kyle Kirkland
If you are struggling with crooked teeth or jaw alignment, medical experts can help. Visiting an orthodontist is important for your oral health, but it also has benefits for supporting other potential issues in the body as well.

Orthodontics is the medical practice that involves diagnosing and treating teeth alignment and jaw alignment, and the American Association of Orthodontists reccommends that people start seeing an orthodontist by age 7. We asked the experts what exactly orthodontists do and why you should care.

What Do Orthodontists Do?

An orthodontist is someone who is a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) and has completed additional training in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, according to the American Board of Orthodontics.

“Orthodontists move teeth using fixed or removable braces,” Richard Marques, MD, a dentist at Dr. Richard Clinics, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

Other types of teeth-straightening devices that orthodontists could use during treatment include:

  • Metal, ceramic, or lingual braces. These devices combine brackets with metal wires and come in a variety of styles.
  • Clear dental aligners. Orthodontists can prescribe a series of clear, custom-made, removable mouthpieces that sit directly on your teeth while straightening them.
  • Retainers. These mouthpieces hold teeth in their place after braces or dental aligner treatment.

Why Orthodontistry Matters

You can go to an orthodontist for both teeth alignment and jaw alignment issues. They will focus on aligning the teeth and jaw in order to promote good oral health. In addition to aesthetic concerns, misaligned teeth or jaws can lead to health problems like:

  • Tooth decay
  • Tooth injury
  • Jawbone and joint problems
  • Complications when eating food

“Teeth and jaw alignment has many benefits for a patient's oral health and quality of life,” Andrew Geller, DDS, a dentist at Geller Family Dental, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

Activities such as brushing and flossing your teeth are critical for improving the overall health of your mouth, since straight teeth make it easier to take care of your oral health.

“When teeth are straightened, less food gets trapped in between adjacent teeth. This leads to fewer cavities, healthier gums, decreased risk of bone loss, and helps to prevent bad breath,” Geller says.

The benefits of teeth and jaw alignment can be seen in other parts of the body as well. “When the mouth stays cleaner, it means less systemic inflammation that can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, vascular problems, strokes, dementia, and even certain types of cancer,” Paul Springs, DMD, a prosthodontist at Dr. Mondshine & Associates, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

Start your journey to a more confident smile today!

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