Dentofacial Orthopedics

Headgear Braces & More

You may have noticed that Dr. David McDonough 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 two or three year residency program. There are nine specialties sanctioned by the American Dental Association. Some you are likely familiar with are 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. Because Dr. McDonough is skilled in both areas, he is able to diagnose any misalignments in the teeth and jaw as well as the facial structure, and can devise a treatment plan that integrates both orthodontic and dentofacial orthopedic treatments.

Dentofacial Orthopedics requires 2 to 3 years of additional training where the orthodontist learns to help guide not just the movement of teeth, but also the bones of the entire face and jaw, giving overall better results.
Dentofacial Orthopedics uses headgear and expanders during treatment, depending on what facial abnormalities are present to correct these problems. This results in not only a picture perfect smile, but a beautiful profile as well.
Because the development of the facial bones occurs largely during childhood, orthopedic treatments may precede conventional braces, but often the two are done together. This is a good reason to start your child’s treatment as young as seven.