What is an Orthopedist?

Dental model of jaw.

Discover the full role and capabilities of your local orthodontist, from aligning misaligned teeth to improving your skeletal structure and jaw to alleviate discomfort. 

Orthodontic doctors typically work on misaligned teeth. They fit your teeth for braces to fix a bad bite by straightening crooked, crowded, or gapped teeth. Orthopedic doctors, however, generally deal with improving the skeletal structure of your face and/or jaw. An orthopedist specializes in the skeletal and muscular systems. It’s common to see an orthopedist if you have pain or swelling in the joint of your jaw or if you have an injury to a muscle, ligament, or other skeletal bone structure.

What Do Orthopedists Do?

An orthopedist helps treat injuries and pain in the following:

  • Muscles
  • Joints
  • Bones
  • Cartilage
  • Ligaments
  • Tendons

Along with diagnosing and coming up with a treatment plan, your orthopedist will be there for the whole journey, helping with rehabilitation. During your rehabilitation period, your orthopedist will also give you instructions on how to prevent further complications or the same issue coming back. 

An Orthopedist can perform many treatments, including surgical and non-surgical procedures. For conservative treatments, your doctors will focus on solving the issues without having to do surgery. 

An orthopedist may recommend:

  • Exercises – Your doctor will give you exercises and stretches to help the affected area.
  • Immobilization of the area – To prevent any additional strain to the area, Your doctor may recommend braces, splints, and casts.
  • Medications – To help with pain, inflammation, and swelling, Your doctor may recommend medications to help with symptoms.

Surgical treatments

Sometimes, the issue you have is more serious, and conservative treatments just won’t cut it. If that’s the case, your doctor will recommend surgery. 

Some examples of surgeries an orthopedic surgeon performs include:

  • Joint replacement – your surgeon will replace parts of a joint that have become damaged or diseased.
  • Internal fixation –  your surgeon will place hardware (pins, screws, plates, and rods) to hold broken bones in place while they heal.
  • Fusion – Your surgeon will use a bone graft material and some form of internal fixation to connect two bones together.
  • Soft tissue repair – Your surgeon repairs damaged muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

Orthopedic surgeons are great for diagnosing and treating complications and pain in your bones, muscles, and joints. Orthopedic doctors will assist with rehabilitation processes and help prevent the problem from happening again. Talk to your dentist or health care provider and see if seeing an orthopedic doctor is right for you.