About Orthodontics

4 million
people in the care of an Orthodontic Specialist in Canada and the United States
4 years
of dental school in a university or institution accredited by the Canadian Dental Association (CDA)
2-3 years
of advanced education specializing in orthodontic treatment

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The technical term for these problems is “malocclusion,” which means “bad bite.” The practice of orthodontics requires professional skill in the design, application and control of corrective appliances (braces) to bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment and achieve facial balance.

How is an orthodontist different from a dentist?

Your orthodontist is a specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontic Specialists must first become dentists by completing a 4-year program at a dental school in a university or other institution accredited by the Canadian Dental Association (CDA). They must then successfully complete an additional two-to-three-year master’s program, accredited by the CDA, for advanced education specializing in orthodontic treatment. This advanced training includes such diverse studies as genetics, embryology, human growth and development, and biophysics. Only dentists with this advanced specialty education can present themselves as Orthodontic Specialists.

Although dentists might be able to do orthodontics, they do not have the advanced training and education required to fully understand the complexities of orthodontic problems and the necessary treatment.

Who can recommend an Orthodontic Specialist?

Finding an orthodontic specialist for you or your child is easy. You can contact the Canadian Association of Orthodontists. Your family dentist can also help with a recommendation and with more information on orthodontics. Family and friends are also a great resource for orthodontists in your area.

As you consider your options, keep in mind that members of the Canadian and American Associations of Orthodontists are Orthodontic Specialists who have met the exacting standards of education and experience set by the Canadian and American Dental Regulators. CAO/AAO membership is your assurance of quality care and the highest professional standards.

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What is a malocclusion?

“Malocclusion” is the technical term for crooked, crowded or protruding teeth that do not bite together properly. Literally, the word means “bad bite.” Most malocclusions are inherited. These include crowding of teeth, too much space between teeth, extra or missing teeth, cleft palate and a variety of other irregularities of the jaws and face. Some malocclusions are acquired, such as ones caused by thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, dental disease, premature loss of primary or permanent teeth, accidents or some medical problems. Left untreated, orthodontic problems can become worse. Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean; this can contribute to conditions such as tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. A bad bite can also cause abnormal wear and fractures of teeth and difficulty chewing, and the excess stress of a bad bite will eventually have a negative effect on the bone and gum tissue supporting the teeth.

Your Membership Matters!

Join the CAO and help us shape the orthodontic industry.