Dentofacial Orthopedics

Dentofacial Orthopedics Old Tappan, NJYou may have noticed that Dr. Jenkins specializes in “Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics.” While most people have heard of orthodontics, many are confused by the “dentofacial orthopedics” part of the title. We can explain!

Every orthodontist starts out in dental school. Upon completion of dental school, some graduates immediately go into practice as dentists. Others choose to pursue a dental specialty, which requires additional schooling during a 2-3 year residency program. There are nine specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. You are likely familiar with Pediatric Dentistry (dentistry for children), Periodontics (dentistry focusing on the gums), and Oral Surgery.

One of the nine specialties is “Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics.” You probably know that an orthodontist straightens teeth, and indeed: “ortho” comes from the Greek for “straight” or “correct,” and “dontic” from the Greek for “teeth.” But what about dentofacial orthopedics? “Dentofacial” is “teeth” plus “face” while “ortho” again means “straight” and “pedic” is from the Greek for “child.”

Essentially, while orthodontics entails the management of tooth movement, dentofacial orthopedics involves the guidance of facial growth and development, which occurs largely during childhood. In both situations, appliances are frequently used – the more familiar braces for orthodontics, and other specialized appliances, like expanders, to help correct facial abnormalities. Sometimes orthopedic treatment may precede conventional braces, but often the two are accomplished at the same time. So if your child gets braces and an expander, he’s undergoing orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics!

Because Dr. Jenkins is skilled in both areas, he is able to diagnose any misalignment of the teeth and jaws, as well as the facial structure, and can devise a treatment plan that integrates both orthodontic and dentofacial orthopedic treatments.

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