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Health Matters

Orthodontics 101

November 1st, 2015

By Dr. Benjamin Koh

What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the Canadian and American Dental Associations. It includes the diagnosis, prevention, and correction of malocclusion(bad bites) in children and adults, either due to dental or skeletal irregularities.

What is an Orthodontist and how are they similar and different from General Dentists?

The main similarity between a General Dentist and an Orthodontist is that they both focus on oral care. However, an Orthodontist requires several more years of training in a Recognized Orthodontic Residency Program after dental school to become a Registered Specialist.  As such, Orthodontists can perform the same procedures as General Dentists however their main focus is in the treatment of misaligned teeth and jaws.

When should my child see an Orthodontist?

 The Canadian Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child’s first visit to the Orthodontist should be no later than age 7. This may come as a surprise to you since orthodontics is usually associated with adolescents and teenagers. However during this early critical time, potential jaw growth and tooth development issues can be identified and prevented. For the majority of patients, development will be normal and no treatment would be necessary.

Signs to watch for in your child include but are not limited to overjets (upper teeth stick out), underbites (lower teeth stick out), crossbites, open bites, excessive crowding/spaces between teeth, missing teeth, mouth breathing, and finger sucking habits.

Is Orthodontics only for Children?

No—in fact, about 50 per cent of our patients are adults ranging from 18-60 year olds!

My child needs braces: Now what?

Your first appointment with your Orthodontist usually involves gathering as much information as possible, such as a medical/dental history, a full oral examination, a series of photographs, and radiographs (x-rays) if needed. Your Orthodontist will then provide a diagnosis and advise if treatment is necessary, along with the risks and benefits of treatment.

Orthodontic care can be costly: Will my insurance cover Orthodontic Care?

Yes - many insurance companies see the value in seeking orthodontic care, but their benefits will vary from carrier to carrier. To find out more information about your coverage, you may call your insurance company directly, or discuss your benefits with your Orthodontic Treatment Coordinator.

Dr. Benjamin Koh is a Registered Specialist in Orthodontics in Fort McMurray, Alberta. He completed his Bachelor of Medical Sciences at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario prior to obtaining his Dental Degree at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He then pursued Orthodontic Specialty training at the University of Colorado in Denver, Colorado.

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