Dr. David Alan Skarin consulting a patient in his office with a dental model and orthodontic software

What Is an Orthodontist?

What Is an Orthodontist?


Specializing in the diagnosis, planning, and correction of malocclusions and/or irregularities.

4 min read

An orthodontist is a dental specialist trained in the prevention, diagnosis, and correction of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists refer to these irregularities as malocclusion, or more commonly understood as, misalignment of the teeth. They also perform procedures that correct problems related to jaw growth and development.

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) defines an orthodontist as a dental specialist whom has completed at least three years of postgraduate education on top of completing their undergraduate degree. Orthodontists have to go through the same four years of dental school that all dentists do, which means, all orthodontists were once dentists before they were orthodontists.

After graduating dental school, students that graduate near the top of their class in dental school are able to progress on to specialist degree programs, such as orthodontics, oral surgery, prosthodontics, etc. Orthodontists are those students that choose to go on with their schooling to specialize in orthodontics.

They diagnose problems with teeth alignment

There are many underlying reasons as to why your teeth may not be straight and orthodontists are experts in figuring out the cause. Orthodontists use braces, wires, and other appliances and procedures to move teeth into proper alignment and to correct dental issues.

The first step in treating an orthodontic problem is to determine what type of malocclusion (misalignment) exists. During your complementary consultation, Dr. Skarin diagnoses the kind of misalignment you have and explains why your upper and lower teeth do not align properly. These conditions include crowding, spacing, crossbite, overjet, underjet, open bite, and others.

They develop a treatment plan based on their findings

Next, the doctor develops a treatment plan that includes the best method for correcting the malocclusion. Orthodontists work closely with pediatricians, surgeons, periodontists, dentists, and other specialists to develop an individualized treatment plan. Sometimes, Dr. Skarin will need to discuss next steps with other doctors and will work with them to determine the best course of action for your dental health.

An orthodontic treatment plan is a written document that outlines the goals of an orthodontist and describes how to achieve them. The plan may include information about the patient's teeth, gums, jaw structure, bite, facial features, and any other factors that affect tooth movement. It also includes instructions on what appliances are needed for treatment, and when.

They perform corrective procedures such as braces, Invisalign, or other orthodontic appliances.

Once the plan has been developed and finalized, the orthodontic appliance is fabricated and fitted to your mouth. Having practiced for over 40 years, Dr. Skarin is well versed in any and all technologies. We offer Invisalign, Clear Correct, Dynaflex EZ-Align, our own customer aligners, braces, clear braces, our own patented braces technology; you name it.

Each of these appliances have advantages and disadvantages. Some of them offer a slower treatment speed, but with a reduced cost of treatment while others offer a faster treatment speed for an increased cost. Dr. Skarin will be happy to discuss which appliance is best for your lifestyle and needs.

They provide ongoing care after treatment has been completed

When treatment is done, you are left with a new beautiful smile with a new bite and jaws that are aligned correctly. Having aligned teeth and an aligned bite makes it much easier to keep your teeth clean and also makes it easier to keep your teeth straight long term.

After your braces come off, Dr. Skarin creates a retainer for patients that should be worn at night to prevent tooth movement. Retainers are usually worn every night for two years after treatment until the teeth to set into position, after which the retainer can be worn less frequently.

Dr. Skarin offers every patient lifetime retainer checks (his lifetime!) included in the cost of treatment. In order to ensure your teeth are straight for years to come, we suggest stopping by and having the doctor inspect your retainer and make sure your teeth and bite are looking good.

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