Orthodontists and dentists both help patients improve their oral health, but in different ways. Dentistry is a broad medical specialty that deals with the teeth, gum, nerves, and jaw, while orthodontics is a specialty within dentistry that focuses on correcting bites, occlusion, and the straightness of teeth.
Abnormal alignment of the teeth and jaws is common, nearly 30% of the population has malocclusions severe enough to benefit from orthodontic treatment. Treatment can take several months to a few years, it involves the use of dental braces and other appliances to slowly move the teeth and jaws around. If the malocclusion is very severe, jaw surgery may be used. Treatment is usually started before a person reaches adulthood since bones can more easily be moved around in children.