Choosing An Orthodontist: Who’s Treating You?

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You are having braces or Invisalign so the person doing them must be an orthodontist – right? Not necessarily! While many dentists practice orthodontics, they are not the same as an orthodontist.

How do I know if I am seeing an orthodontist?

Orthodontists are registered dental specialists who have completed an additional 2-3 years of full-time University training – in orthodontics, facial growth and development, biology and appliance mechanics. Orthodontists are also trained in critical scientific thinking so that they are better able to evaluate new strategies and methods regarding their relative worth. After graduating from University orthodontists then must practice ONLY orthodontics.

Orthodontists are specialists. They only complete orthodontic treatment, not other dental treatments. Because of this you can be sure that you a receive specialist expertise that delivers the best results.

Can general dentists treat orthodontics?

General dentists who practice orthodontics, on the other hand, can do all areas of dentistry. However the level of training and experience in orthodontics is significantly different to a specialist. The analogy in medicine would be the level of training of a general practice doctor versus a plastic surgeon when it comes to performing plastic surgery – the general practitioner can do it, and may have done some additional training, but routinely the specialist is going to get superior outcomes of treatment.

Most general dentists avoid or do only minor orthodontic procedures, referring most treatments on to the specialist orthodontist. Others may have done short courses i.e. one or a few weekends or week-long courses. Some dentists then take on more difficult orthodontic cases than they should , and that can produce poor results.

The outcome of poor orthodontic treatment

In the UK claims and complaints against dentists have risen tenfold from 2005-2012 and in particular the complaints about short-term or fast, quick or rapid braces has risen by 20% just since 2010. In many cases the patients and their families were poorly informed of the likely outcome and potential consequences of the proposed treatment.

For example, braces claiming to be faster do not actually exist. The practitioner simply does the initial stage of orthodontic treatment (which is the rapid tipping movements) but then fails to follow this through to completion with the detailed stages of alignment and root movement. This results in a compromise not only in the function and aesthetics but also results in a less stable outcome long-term.

Sometimes a case can be treated well by a lesser-trained dentist, or perhaps a compromise is acceptable to the patient or the parents. However often a more ideal result is desired or the complexity of treatment goes beyond the abilities of the general dentist. The ideal treatment options are best discussed with the expert, your local Orthodontist.

There is no referral needed to see an orthodontist

No referral is required to see an orthodontist a visit for a consultation can be made at any time.

If you’re considering Orthodontic treatment contact a specialist Orthodontist.


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