Orthodontics is a part of dentistry that deals with
preventing and correcting irregularities of the teeth.
One of these irregularities can be shifting of the teeth,
which makes them appear crooked. Another irregularity
is known as a malocclusion, in which the teeth of the
upper jaw have abnormal contact with the teeth of the
lower jaw. This is commonly referred to as an abnormal
bite. Orthodontics is sometimes concerned with fixing
abnormalities of the teeth to help improve the
appearance of the teeth (not for a medical reason).
However, another areas of orthodontics is focused on
reconstructing the face rather than focusing solely on
the teeth.
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The most common way that orthodontics is usually practiced involves the placement of
dental braces, which are made from stainless steel or ceramic material. The braces
contain brackets, which are placed on the teeth and are connected by wires. The wires
and brackets interact to move the teeth into the proper position. After wearing braces,
most patients wear retainers, which are removal plastic devices with metal wires that
help maintain the position of the teeth. A dentist who practices orthodontics is known as
an orthodontist. Orthodontics is also known as dental orthopedics and orthodontia.
Orthodontics comes from the Greek word "orthos" meaning "correct," and the Greek word
"odous" meaning "tooth." Put the two words together and you have "correct (the) tooth."
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