Orthodontics is one of nine dental specialties formally recognized by the American Dental Association. It is considered the first specialty of dentistry, originating over one hundred years ago. Evidence of intentional tooth movement, however, dates back more than three thousand years.
In recent times, orthodontics has come to include dentofacial orthopedics—together they comprise the study and treatment of misaligned teeth and malocclusions (improper bites). Orthodontic treatment can involve moving teeth, as well as modifying jaw growth or jaw position.
Dentists who complete a two-year orthodontic residency and receive a certificate in orthodontics from an accredited program are considered specialists and are called orthodontists.
All orthodontists are expected to focus their services solely on orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, rather than providing other dental procedures.
Besides receiving a specialty certificate, some orthodontists also earn a Master of Science (MS) degree above and beyond their degree in dentistry (DDS or DMD). Through a series of rigorous examinations and case presentations, some orthodontists achieve additional certification by the American Board of Orthodontists (Diplomate status) as well.
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