There are nine specialties sanctioned by the American Dental Association, Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics is one of them. Many patients state during the treatment, " I'm going to my orthodontist today" but rarely do you hear someone say " I'm going to my dentofacial orthopedist." Several years ago the AAO changed the title of our specialty to be more encompassing.
An orthodontist and dentofacial orthopedics does more than just straightening teeth. We can influence the growth of the jaws. The word "ortho" comes from the Greek for "straight" or "correct," and "dontic" comes from the Greek meaning "teeth." The word dentofacial has its origin from Greece as well. The term "dentofacial" means "teeth" plus "face" while "ortho" again means "straight" and "pedic" is from the Greek for "child."
Orthodontics is the management of tooth movement and dentofacial orthopedics involves the guidance of facial growth and development. This growth occurs in largely in early childhood development thru the early teen years. Some growth still exists in late teen years. In either case, an orthodontist uses this growth and development to best treat the patient. Certain appliances like a headgear or expander are used during childhood developmental years. Sometimes orthopedic treatment may precede braces, like an expander, but other times the two are accomplished at the same time. So if your child has braces and a headgear, he or she is undergoing orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics!