Dentofacial orthopedics – the guidance of facial growth and development, which occurs largely during childhood – is an important part of what we do here at Vancouver Orthodontics.
All orthodontists begin their studies in dental school. Upon completion of dental school, many graduates begin to practice as dentists immediately. Some, however, opt to pursue a dental specialty, which requires additional training and schooling over a two- to three-year residency program.
The American Dental Association sanctions a range of 9 dental specialties. These include Pediatric Dentistry (dentistry for children), Periodontics (focused on the gums), and Oral Surgery, for example.
Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics is another such specialty. You're likely aware that an orthodontist straightens teeth. In fact, 'ortho' comes from the Greek word for 'straight' or 'correct', and 'dontic' from the Greek word for 'teeth'. The word 'dentofacial' is a combination of the Greek words for 'teeth' and 'face'. 'Ortho', as you know, means 'straight', and 'pedic' is the Greek word for 'child'.
Essentially, while orthodontics involves managing of tooth movement, dentofacial orthopedics is the guidance of facial growth and development, which occurs mostly during childhood.
In some cases, orthopedic treatment may take place in anticipation of conventional braces, but most of the time, the two take place simultaneously.