Reproduced from the website of the Orthodontic Society of Ireland
Orthodontics is the longest established Specialty in dentistry and one of only 2 recognised throughout the European Union. Orthodontics is the specialised branch of dentistry that deals broadly with improving the appearance & positions of the teeth and jaw bones. The aim of Orthodontics is to produce better functioning teeth and more attractive smiles.
Orthodontic treatment is carried out using braces. There are many types of braces. Braces fall into 2 broad categories – removable braces ( or “retainers” ) and fixed braces ( or “train tracks” ). Sometimes the braces required are a combination of the two types. Whatever type of brace is used, it is necessary to develop some force to move the teeth. The forces are usually generated by wires, springs and elastics but some braces also harness the natural forces of the chewing muscles to generate the required forces. Braces can be on the outside of the teeth or on the inside to the teeth, some are made of metal, some are made of white porcelain and some are made of clear plastic. Some companies market their own braces, e.g. six month braces, invisalign, clearstep, triangular braces, hidden braces, incognito etc. etc., but a Specialist Orthodontist is best placed to guide you as to what is the best option for you and your family.
There are many factors that lead to Orthodontic problems and a Specialist Orthodontist is best positioned and best educated to analyse & determine the causes of your Orthodontic problems, and has had many extra years in education & training in how to best treat your problems, in order to give you a pleasant & healthy smile. Sometimes only six month of brace treatment can be used to deal with a minor problem, but usually a longer course of treatment is required to eliminate the many factors that make up an Orthodontic problem. Occasionally what appears to be a simple problem on the surface is, in fact, the surface manifestation of a more complex problem. Occasionally in adults, Orthodontics is best combined with facial surgery to give the best result, and at times Orthodontics and implants go hand-in-hand to eliminate your concerns. This wide variety of situations indicates why it is worth seeking the advice of a Specialist Orthodontist in order to benefit from their extra education and experience.
Orthodontics can be carried out at almost all ages. Although the average age is in the early ‘teens, a good time to have an initial Orthodontic assessment is around age 8 or 9. At that age, all of the adult teeth are forming and the adult face is developing. Developing problems can be diagnosed and, if possible, intercepted – thereby minimising, and occasionally, eliminating the need for complex treatment at later age. Even if treatment at age 8 or 9 is not necessary, early assessment will permit your Orthodontist to monitor the development of your child and the malocclusion, and enable treatment to be commenced at the optimal time. Adults are also increasingly seeking Orthodontic treatment. Discerning adults are now more aware of the benefits of Orthodontic treatment. In addition, modern braces are visually less intrusive than they were in the past. This is because modern technology has allowed the development of smaller braces, less obtrusive braces and the easier use of braces that can be placed behind the teeth. To become a Specialist Orthodontist, one must first qualify as a dentist, after which general experience must be gained in many fields within dentistry before applying for a place in a Specialist Orthodontic Training Programme. Most of these courses are 3 years in length, are full-time and are attached to a University. In effect, each Specialist Orthodontist has had a minimum of eight years of University education and has had 3 years of Specialist Orthodontic Training beyond a basic dental degree. Worldwide there is a shortage of these training programmes because of the cost of running them, and the Republic of Ireland is no exception. The Orthodontic Society of Ireland is the professional body representing the majority of the Orthodontists in Ireland. All members of the Orthodontic Society it Ireland are recognised as Specialist Orthodontists by the Dental Council of Ireland.