Dentistry is the study, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral cavity, especially the teeth, and to an extent related conditions in the maxillofacial (jaws and face) area. Dentistry can be considered a branch of medicine as a whole, although it is also concerned with cosmesis.
Dentistry is widely considered important for overall health. Dental treatment is carried out by the dental team, which often consists of a dentist and dental auxiliaries (dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental technicians, and dental therapists). Most dentists work in private practices (primary care), although some work in hospitals (secondary care) and institutions (prisons, armed forces bases, etc.).
The history of dentistry is almost as ancient as the history of humanity and civilization, with the earliest evidence dating from 7000BC. It is thought that dental surgery was the first specialization from medicine.
Orthodontics, formally orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, is the first 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. 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 orthopaedics".