Orthodontics, formerly known as orthodontia, originates from the Greek word orthos, meaning “straight” or “proper “, and odous, meaning “tooth”.
Orthodontics is the first specialty of dentistry and concerns the study and treatment of malocclusions (improper bites), which may be a result of tooth irregularity, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both. Depending on the existing oral health and age of a patient, orthodontic treatment may focus on dental displacement only, or it may deal with the control and modification of facial structure.
The latter is best defined as “dentofacial orthopaedics”. It aims to modify the jaw dimensions and relationship if these are unbalanced or asymmetric.
Orthodontic treatment may be undergone for a number of reasons. It could be for purely aesthetic reasons which would focus exclusively on improving the outward appearance of a patient’s teeth; or for more serious situations, such as reconstruction of the jaw in addition to teeth.