Malocclusion and Orthodontics
When To Call a Doctor
- Call your dentist or orthodontist immediately for a dental emergency, such as the loss of a tooth or if a broken orthodontic device (appliance) prevents you from opening or closing your mouth. For more information, see the topic Reference Mouth and Dental Injuries.
- Call for an appointment with your orthodontist or dentist if nonprescription pain relievers don't ease appliance-related pain or if your appliance has loose brackets or bands, distorted wires, or wires that are too long and irritate the inside of your cheeks.
Start your child's dental visits at a young age, both to help your child become familiar with a dentist and to watch for any early dental or Reference malocclusion Opens New Window problems. Keep up with regular dental checkups (twice a year). For more information, see the topic Reference Basic Dental Care.
Watchful waiting is when you and your doctor watch symptoms to see if a health condition improves on its own. If it does, no treatment is necessary. If symptoms don't get better or get worse, then it’s time to take the next treatment step.
Watchful waiting is often fine for children with malocclusion. Keep in mind that the early years, when the jawbone is still growing, are the best time for Reference braces Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window. Some people wait until they are adults before straightening their teeth. After you talk with a dentist or orthodontist about your or your child's situation, it’s usually up to you to decide the timing of treatment.
Who To See
A general Reference dentist Opens New Window or a pediatric (children's) dentist can give dental care, a first checkup for orthodontic treatment, and simple orthodontic corrections.
Dentists who have 2 years or more of extra training in a specific area treat more complex dental problems. Dental specialists who treat different aspects of malocclusion are:
- Reference Orthodontists Opens New Window, who straighten teeth.
- Prosthodontists, who replace missing teeth.
- Periodontists, who treat or prevent gum (Reference periodontal Opens New Window) disease.
- Reference Oral surgeons Opens New Window (maxillofacial surgeons), who surgically treat structural problems of the jaw, face, head, or neck.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Reference Making the Most of Your Appointment.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference January 11, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Reference William F. Hohlt, DDS - Orthodontics