Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry which is concerned with the study of the growth of the craniofacial complex and the occlusion of teeth. It implies the diagnosis,
prevention and treatment of abnormalities in these structures.
It has been found that only about 25 % of the population has normal occlusions and that
75 % have malocclusions, whether in a lighter or more serious grade. As malocclusion is
not a disease, but a result of the variability between the growth and development of dental
and craniofacial structures, we do not expect its occurence to decrease.
The training of orthodontists only started taking shape seriously after the second world
war and has already reached saturation point in certain parts of America and Europe. Here
in South Africa though, we still have a shortage which will still last for some time.
Education in orthodontics takes place on an undergraduate as well as 'n postgraduate
level with research as part of the post-graduate training. Being only a branch of dentistry,
good co-operation between orthodontics and the other branches is encouraged.