Dentofacial orthopedics – the guidance of facial growth and development, which occurs largely during childhood – is an important part of what we do here at Langley Orthodontics.
What is dentofacial orthopedics?
Upon completion of dental school, many graduates begin to practice as dentists immediately. Others, however, choose carry on with their studies and pursue a dental specialty.
This requires additional training and schooling over a two- to three-year residency program.
The Canadian Dental Association sanctions 9 different dental specialties. You may be familiar with some of them, such as Pediatric Dentistry (dentistry for children), Periodontics (focused on the gums), and Oral Surgery.
One of these dental specialties is a little less well-known than those mentioned above: Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics.
You're probably aware that an orthodontist straightens teeth, and in fact, 'ortho' comes from the Greek word for 'correct' or 'straight', and 'dontic' comes from the Greek word for 'teeth'.
'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'.
The guidance of children's facial growth & development
In short, orthodontics involves the management of tooth movement, and dentofacial orthopedics is the guidance of facial development and growth, which takes place mostly during childhood.
In both cases, appliances are usually used; braces for orthodontics, and for orthopedics, specialized appliances such as expanders and headgear.
Orthopedic treatment often takes place in anticipation of conventional braces, but generally speaking, the two take place concurrently.