You may have noticed that our doctor specializes in "Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics." While most people have heard of Orthodontics, many are confused by the Dentofacial Orthopedics part of the title.
Every orthodontist starts out in university for a number of years before applying for and getting accepted into dental school. Upon completion of dental school, all graduates immediately go into practice as dentists. After practicing general dentistry for at least a year, some dentists choose to pursue a specialty, which requires a rigorous application process followed by additional university training during a two to three-year residency program. There are nine specialties recognized by The Canadian Dental Association and the Alberta Dental Association and College. Some you are likely familiar with: Pediatric Dentistry (dentistry for children), Periodontics (dentistry focusing on the gums), and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
"Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics" is one of the nine specialties. Essentially, while orthodontics entails the management of tooth movement, dentofacial orthopedics involves the guidance of facial growth and development, which occurs largely during childhood and adolescence. Appliances are frequently used — the more familiar braces for orthodontics, and other specialized appliances like Headgear, Expanders and Functional Appliances depending on what facial abnormalities are present. Sometimes orthopedic treatment may precede conventional braces, but often the two are used at the same time. So if your child gets braces and headgear, he's actually undergoing orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics.
Being skilled in both areas, orthodontists are able to diagnose any misalignments in the teeth and jaw within the overal facial structure, and can devise a treatment plan that integrates both orthodontic and dentofacial orthopedic treatments.