All About Orthodontics


Orthodontics is the oldest of seven recognized specialities within the field of dentistry. This branch of dentistry is concerned with the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of maloclussions (the misalignment of teeth or the incorrect relationship between the teeth of the two dental arches), along with dental and facial irregularities. The control and modification of facial growth is defined as dentofacial orthopedics. The speciality practice of orthodontics requires professional skill in the design, application and control of corrective appliances, such as braces.

Orthodontics bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment to achieve facial balance.

Orthodontic specialist

Becoming an orthodontist requires over ten years of formal education after
graduation from high school. Orthodontists spend four years at an undergraduate college, followed by a four-year graduate program at a university dental school accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association (ADA). At this point, the individual is awarded either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree enabling them to practice general (family dentistry). Specialty training in orthodontics requires the completion of a post doctoral program consisting of two or more years in an advanced education orthodontic residency program. During their residency an orthodontist learns the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development and are uniquely qualified to correct “bad bites.” An orthodontist focuses their attention exclusively on the specialty of orthodontics and no longer provides general dental services such as cleanings, fillings and crowns.

What do the initials mean?

The initials that follow a dentist’s name are either DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine). Both sets indicate that the degree awarded upon graduation from dental school, and all general and specialists have earned one of these equivalent degrees. Both degrees use the same curriculum requirements that are designated by the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation and the Canadian Dental Association. According to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA)’s Official Guide to Dental Schools, of the 68 dental schools in the US and Canada, 30 award DMD degrees and 38 award DDS degrees. Generally four years of undergraduate education plus four years of dental school is completed in order to obtain this degree and become a general dentist.

When Dr. Felty and Dr. Thong became specialists in orthodontics, they completed over two additional years of post graduate training after completing college and earning a DMD degree. Dr. Felty was awarded a Master of Science degree as well as a Certificate in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. Dr. Thong was awarded a Master of Craniofacial Science as well as a Diploma in Orthodontics.

It is this clinical and didactic training that distinguishes Dr. Felty and Dr. Thong as an Orthodontic specialists.


The American Association of Orthodontists, or AAO, is the national organization of dental specialists who limit their practice exclusively to orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. The AAO was founded in 1900 and is the oldest and largest of the seven dental specialty organizations in the United States and Canada. The AAO has more than 13,500 members, which includes over 2000 international members located outside North America.

The Canadian Association of Orthodontists or CAO is the national organization and official voice for registered orthodontic specialists in Canada. It was founded in 1949 and is dedicated to the promotion of the highest standards of excellence in orthodontic education and quality orthodontic care.
The AAO and CAO are dedicated to advancing the art and science of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, improving the health of the public by promoting quality orthodontic care and supporting the successful practice of orthodontics. All members must meet the specialty educational requirements as defined by the Commission on Dental Education of the American Dental Association (ADA) and Canadian Dental Association (CDA)

The American Dental Association has recognized that “specialists are necessary to protect the public, nurture the art and science of dentistry and improve the quality of care.”

Dr. Felty is a proud and active member in the Canadian Association of Orthodontists, British Columbia Society of Orthodontists and The Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists. She was recently elected as the PCSO Trustee to the American Association of Orthodontists Board of Trustees, a position that has a ten year term. In over one hundred years of the association’s existence, Dr. Felty is only the third woman, third Canadian and the youngest ever to hold this position.