Many people may not know just exactly what is an orthodontist? That’s a great question! An orthodontist goes to four years of dental school and then only the top students in the dental class are eligible to continue their education toward a specialty called orthodontics. It is extremely competitive to be accepted into an orthodontic residency program because of the three extra years of school that goes with it. This extra expertise is what sets orthodontists apart from general dentists. Both orthodontists at Smiles Hollywood Orthodontics, Dr. Stephanie Crise and Dr. Jessica Downs, graduated from dental school and then went on to specialize in orthodontics for an additional 3 years. They both graduated top of their orthodontics’ class! Dr. Crise and Dr. Downs love being orthodontists because they have the opportunity to help all our amazing patients to achieve beautiful looking teeth and a Hollywood Smile!

So, what is an orthodontist? An orthodontist is a dentist who is trained to treat teeth and jaw irregularities as well as diagnose and prevent these irregularities. Orthodontists correct existing dental and skeletal conditions and are trained especially to identify problems that may develop in the future as well. They can develop a treatment plan to correct these problems before they become severe. Orthodontists work with people of all ages, from children to adults. At Smiles Hollywood Orthodontics, our first initial exams are completely FREE! We highly encourage that you bring your child in for their initial exam with one of our highly skilled orthodontists around the ages of 7-8 years old. Many people think that an orthodontist just does traditional braces, which is true, but there are so many other helpful appliances available to treat our patients depending on their specific need.

So, what is an orthodontist? An orthodontist does braces, as well as many other orthodontic appliances, such as a facemask, expanders, lower lingual arches, headgears, Clear Active Invisalign Aligners, and more. The reason it is important to go to the orthodontist at an early age is because a big part of what an orthodontist does is diagnosing any skeletal or facial changes that can be made early in a growing patient. Our doctors at Smiles Hollywood Orthodontics have seen many patients who have presented with very narrow upper jaws therefore have needed an upper expander to widen their upper jaw to make more space, so that all their permanent teeth could come in properly. If a patient needs this type of early Phase I orthodontic treatment or skeletal correction, it must be done before a patient reaches puberty. The reason for this is because the upper jaw is made up of two bones that are just floating before puberty is reached. So, in an 8 or 9 year old, skeletal changes are easy and relatively painless to make since the bones are not permanently set in place yet. Most of our patients will also need Phase II orthodontic treatment, which is the traditional full braces typically done around the ages of 11-13 years old.

What is an orthodontist? An orthodontist can also help with correcting an underbite. Another skeletal appliance that an orthodontist will use for an underbite is a facemask. This is a nighttime appliance that helps correct a patient’s underbite while they are young. Our highly skilled orthodontists see our patients about every 6-8 weeks to adjust their facemasks to properly correct their underbite. The correct knowledge and use of a facemask is very important and why only trained orthodontists should provide this form of treatment.

Headgear is another orthodontic appliance that is used by orthodontists, but it is used for treating overbites. It’s a nighttime appliance that has a strap that goes around the back of the patient’s head. The ends of the headgear appliance fit into the patients back bands in the mouth. This appliance is also monitored about every 6-8 weeks. The headgear creates just enough force to move the teeth properly and guide the growth of our patient’s face and jaws.

What is an orthodontist? As you can see, an orthodontist is highly skilled and trained to correct all forms of jaw and teeth irregularities. Every patient has a different set of teeth and orthodontic needs which makes being an orthodontist a very tedious skill. Another important tool that orthodontists use nowadays to straighten less extreme cases of overbites, underbites, and crowded teeth is Clear Active Invisalign Aligners. Clear Active Invisalign Aligners are a somewhat newer orthodontic treatment modality compared to others, but they have grown in popularity over the past few years. Like braces, they are used to help straighten and align teeth. Patients love them because they can straighten their teeth without braces!

Clear Aligner systems use a series of customizable clear trays that straighten our patients’ teeth. They are designed to gradually improve your smile and the alignment of your teeth. Many adults are doing Clear Active Aligners because they are not noticeable at all. At Smiles Hollywood Orthodontics, we are very fortunate to have our very own certified in-house lab technician. She has been with Smiles Hollywood Orthodontics for many years now! Both the orthodontists and the certified in-house lab technician monitor all our Clear Active Aligner patients monthly. All our Clear Active Aligners are made in house, which makes the treatment less costly and more efficient since it is not being shipped anywhere. Our certified lab technician can make quick turnaround retainers since she makes all of them right here at our office. We are very fortunate to have her in our office and Smiles Hollywood Orthodontics is one of the only offices in McKinney who has this specialized service available!

Another thing that orthodontists do when you ask yourself what is an orthodontist is they also coordinate treatment of their orthodontic patients with oral surgeons and other dental specialists that may be needed. Some patients have severe underbites that can’t be corrected with just a facemask, so they sometimes require jaw surgery with an oral surgeon. Orthognathic surgery requires a lot of coordination between our orthodontist and the jaw surgeon. Both orthodontists at Smiles Hollywood Orthodontics have long standing relationships with top jaw surgeons, periodontists and oral surgeons in North Dallas. Our orthodontists work with patients and their parents as well as the specialists to coordinate a treatment plan to give our patients top results. Sometimes, our patients also need to see a periodontist for gum grafting, fiberotomies, or other small surgical procedures. So, our orthodontists will send a referral to a qualified periodontist and coordinate with our patient and the specialist to make sure the treatment is properly planned and achievable.

Overall, it is very important to remember that an orthodontist has gone to an additional 3 years of training on how to straighten teeth. So, it is not recommended for you to let your general dentist try to do orthodontics on your child or yourself. Just like if you had a heart problem, you wouldn’t go to a family doctor for treatment, you would go to a cardiologist who specializes in heart problems. The same goes for teeth straightening. You will get excellent results by visiting Smiles Hollywood Orthodontics and letting our extremely skilled and knowledgeable orthodontists diagnose and treat your family. Please call us today for your FREE exam at 972-529-9700. We look forward to meeting you soon!