Orthodontics (Greek. orthos = correct; odontos = teeth) is that branch of dentistry concerned with prevention, interception and correction of malocclusion and other abnormalities of the dento-facial region. The term 'Orthodontics' was first coined by le Felon.

Orthodontics is considered as the 'oldest specialty of dentistry'. The first recorded suggestion for active treatment of malocclusion was by Aulius Cornelius Celsus (25 B.C. - 50 A.D.) who advocated the use of finger pressure to align irregular teeth. Pierre Fauchard (Founder of Modern Dentistry) developed the first orthodontic appliance called a Bandelette (designed to expand the dental arch) in 1723. William E. Magill (1823-1896) was the first person to band tooth for active tooth movement. Edward H. Angle (1855-1930) is considered as the 'Father of Modern Orthodontics'  for his numerous contributions including the classification of malocclusion, Pin and tube and Edgewise appliance. Martin Dewey (1881-1933) was a supporter of non-extraction. Dewey  also modified Angle's Classification of Malocclusion. In 1931, Holly Broadbent and Hofarath independently  developed cephalometric radiography which led to a breakthrough in orthodontic diagnosis and treatment planning.

Normal alignment of teeth is an important factor for esthetics, function and for overall preservation or restoration of dental health. Some of the unfavourable consequences due to malocclusion are: 
  • Poor facial appearance
  • Risk of caries
  • Predisposition to Periodontal Diseases
  • Psychological Disturbances
  • Risk of Trauma
  • Abnormalities of Function
  • Temporomandibular joint Problems

The three main objectives of orthodontic treatment (also known as Jackson's Triad) are:
  1. Functional Efficiency - aimed at improving the functioning of oro-facial apparatus.
  2. Structural Balance - aimed at maintaining a balance between dentoalveolar system, the skeletal tissue and soft tissue including musculature.
  3. Esthetic Harmony - aimed at improving the appearance of teeth and face as a whole
Orthodontic treatment can bring about changes in:
  • Tooth position, 
  • Skeletal Pattern and
  • Soft Tissue pattern
depending upon the need.

Broadly, the services offered by an orthodontist can be classified as:
  1. Preventive orthodontics
  2. Interceptive orthodontics
  3. Corrective orthodontics
  4. Surgical orthodontics
( MNEMONICS: Have you noticed Orthodontists take PICS of every  patient before beginning treatment? P - Preventive, I - Interceptive, C - Corrective, S - Surgical)

1. Preventive Orthodontics
It includes procedures undertaken prior to the onset of a malocclusion in an anticipation of a developing malocclusion.

2. Interceptive Orthodontics
It includes measures that are applied during the early stages of developing malocclusion so as to limit its severity. By interceptive orthodontic procedures, it is possible to prevent establishment of a full fledged malocclusion that may  require long term orthodontic treatment at a later age.

3. Corrective Orthodontics
The treatment measures performed to treat a fully established malocclusion falls under corrective orthodontics.

4. Surgical Orthodontics
Sometimes surgical procedures are to be performed along with the orthodontic treatment either to remove an etiologic factor or to treat very severe dentofacial deformities which cannot be treated by orthodontic therapy alone. All those procedures come under Surgical Orthodontics.

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