Malocclusion is a condition that refers to the misalignment of a person’s teeth. This term was first coined by Edward Angle, who is widely regarded as the founder of the modern orthodontic movement. A malocclusion often causes one’s teeth, lips, gums and jaws to have an unattractive appearance. In many cases, such a dental problem goes beyond just an aesthetic concern. For example, a bad bite can make it difficult for an individual to properly digest food, brush and floss the teeth. Additionally, a malocclusion can exert excessive strain and stress on the jaw muscles, ligaments and joints. People who have misaligned teeth may also struggle to properly speak and pronounce certain sounds. In severe cases, it might even be difficult for people to breathe because airflow is obstructed by misaligned teeth.
Some of the most common types of malocclusion cases include crowding, overbite, underbite, excessive spacing and misplaced midline. Each type of problem can be easily detected by a licensed dentist or oral hygienist. However, only an experienced orthodontist is trained to correct most types of malocclusion cases. Sometimes, an oral surgeon might have to reconstruct parts of a patient’s jaw to fix an extreme case of a bad bite.
So, when it comes down to visiting an orthodontist vs dentist in this case, orthodontic treatment is the most viable solution for just about any type of malocclusion. A patient with this form of dental problem may need to wear traditional braces or seek other alternative solutions, such as Invisalign®.
A dentist only plays a very small role in diagnosing a malocclusion and initiating the proper treatment. For example, such a professional can perform various types of X-rays and physical examinations to determine exactly the type of malocclusion that a patient has.
An orthodontist will adjust traditional braces at least once per month to gradually move misaligned teeth into the proper positions. For mild cases of malocclusion, an orthodontic patient might have to wear braces for at least one year. Other options may also be available for treatment. Once the braces are taken off, a patient will be prescribed a retainer that is designed to prevent a relapse. Individuals who have worn Invisalign® mouthpieces must also wear retainers in order to keep the teeth in place.
If your dentist has discovered that you have a malocclusion, you should have Dr. Ragan at Ragan Orthodontics determine the best treatment option for you. To put it simply, if you have any type of malocclusion and you’re not sure about whether to visit an orthodontist vs dentist for correction, visiting an orthodontist is most likely your best bet. Ragan Orthodontics has three offices in the Dallas area. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to learn more.