Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry that is concerned with the study and treatment of malocclusions (improper bites), which may be a result of tooth irregularity, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both. The word comes from the Greek words orthos meaning straight or proper, and odons meaning tooth.
Orthodontic treatment can focus on dental displacement only, or can deal with the control and modification of facial growth. In the latter case it is better defined as "dentofacial orthopedics".
Orthodontic treatment can be carried out for purely aesthetic reasons with regards to improving the general appearance of patients' teeth. However, orthodontists also work on reconstructing the entire face rather than focusing exclusively on teeth. Treatment is most often prescribed for practical reasons such as providing the patient with a functionally improved bite (occlusion).
Irregular teeth have been a major problem for some individuals since antiquity and attempts to correct them go back to at least 1000 B.C. Orthodontic appliances have been found from Greek and Etruscan materials.