You may have noticed that Dr. Heather specializes in “orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics.” Most people have heard of orthodontics, but many are confused by the dentofacial orthopedics part of the title.
Every orthodontist starts out in dental school. Upon completion of dental school, some graduates immediately go into practice as dentists. Others choose to pursue a specialty, which requires additional schooling during a two- to three-year residency program. Nine specialties are sanctioned by the American Dental Association. Some you are likely familiar with, such as pediatric dentistry (dentistry for children), periodontics (dentistry focusing on the gums), and oral surgery.
“Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics” is one of the nine specialties. Essentially, while orthodontics entails the management of tooth movement, dentofacial orthopedics involves the guidance of facial growth and development, which occurs largely during childhood.
Appliances are frequently used — the more familiar braces for orthodontics, and other specialized appliances like headgear and expanders, depending on what facial abnormalities are present. Sometimes, orthopedic treatment may precede conventional braces, but often the two are used at the same time. So if your child gets braces and headgear, he or she is actually undergoing orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics.
Being skilled in both areas, Dr. Heather is able to diagnose any misalignments in the teeth and jaw as well as the facial structure, and can devise a treatment plan that integrates both orthodontic and dentofacial orthopedic treatments.