This is a specialty of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis, prevention and correction of malpositioned teeth and jaws. It can also focus on modifying facial growth, known as dentofacial orthopedics.
Abnormal alignment of the teeth and jaws is common, nearly 30% of the population has malocclusions severe enough to benefit from orthodontic treatment. Treatment can take several months to a few years, it involves the use of dental braces and other appliances to slowly move the teeth and jaws around. If the malocclusion is very severe, Jaw surgery may be used. Treatment is usually started before a person reaches adulthood since bones can more easily be moved around in children
Braces are usually placed on the front side of the teeth, but may also be placed on the side facing the tongue (called lingual braces). Brackets made out of stainless steel or porcelain are bonded to the center of the teeth using an adhesive Wires are placed in a slot in the brackets which allows for controlled movement in all three dimensions.
Apart from wires, forces can be applied using elastic bands and springs may be used to push teeth apart or to close a gap. Several teeth may be tied together with ligatures and different kinds of hooks can be placed to allow for connecting an elastic band.
Clear aligners are an alternative to braces, but insufficient evidence exists to determine their effectiveness