Dentists routinely recommend orthodontic treatment to their patients, particularly young patients whom they know are facing a lifetime of oral or even general health concerns. Most dentists will refer their patient to a qualified orthodontist, but some will offer to complete the treatment themselves. Due to the established relationship and trust, patients will sometimes proceed with treatment before gaining a second opinion. However, what patients do not realise is there are differences between an orthodontist and a dentist.
Years of Training
In Australia, orthodontists complete additional training. All orthodontists are qualified dentists and hold a degree in dentistry. Most dentists will leave university and go into general practice to work. A small number of dentists decide to specialise in orthodontics. They must complete at least two years in general dental practice prior to an additional three years of study in an accredited university to qualify as a specialist. General dentists may complete weekend-long courses in one type of treatment or extended short courses over a year or two part-time whilst they are working in their general dental practice, but they cannot be considered registered specialist or use the term “orthodontist” to offer any orthodontic treatments.
It is only after completing the further three years of study that a dentist can then call themselves an orthodontist and register as Specialist with the Dental Board of Australia and the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency(AHPRA). Moreover, only Specialist orthodontists may become Full Members of the Australian Society of Orthodontists that enables orthodontists to improve their knowledge throughout their career continually. Ongoing training is necessary for orthodontists to keep up with new technology and research as it is made available around the world.
Experience of an Orthodontist
While a dentist is completing a wide range of important roles including preventive dentistry, fillings, crowns, examinations and root canals they are not exclusively working with patients requiring orthodontic treatment. The orthodontist practises orthodontics exclusively and all treatment including continuing education are focussed on orthodontics specifically. It is difficult enough for the specialist orthodontists to keep pace with developments in their own field so we rely on the general dentist to deliver the most up to date therapies associated with general dentistry.
The Results from Using an Orthodontist
When you are investing money and hours of your time on orthodontic treatment, you should expect to be seen by a professional in the field. Attending an orthodontic clinic also gives you peace of mind that you are going to be happy with the final result. You are going to live with your new-look smile for the rest of your life. You need to rely on your orthodontist to know when your treatment has achieved the desired result, both medically and aesthetically, whatever was the motivation for treatment.
Considering Orthodontic Treatment for Your Child?
There are many advantages to starting orthodontic treatment for children at a young age. Improve your child's smile and book an appointment!
Your Dentist is Part of the Team
After treatment begins with a qualified orthodontist, you will still see your dentist. Your orthodontist will see you regularly to check on the movement of your teeth. You will still need to attend regular appointments with your dentist to have your teeth cleaned and examined for decay.
Some patients require extractions before braces are fitted. In most cases, they are referred back to their dentist. In case of an impacted tooth, the referral may be made to see an oral surgeon. The role of the general dentist in supporting the orthodontist during the course of treatment and this teamwork cannot be understated and is truly appreciated as a key team member in achieving excellent outcomes for all of our patients.
When to See an Orthodontist
An orthodontist rather than a dentist can best handle the following scenarios.
Closing the gaps between teeth
Aligning the tips of teeth
Reducing future teeth decay and gum problems
Improving speech or chewing
Treating an Incorrect Bite
Decreasing the wear of teeth
Before making any decisions on something as important as orthodontics, take your time to do your research. Ensure that you are seeing a qualified and AHPRA registered orthodontist who is a Full Member of the Australian Society of Orthodontists. You will be making a significant investment in time and money, so you want the best return possible on your investment.
An orthodontist will often give you more than one option for repositioning your teeth and be able to explain in detail the pros and cons of each one.
Remember that in this new age there are so many technological advances that suggest that the quality of treatment is continuing to improve. The one overriding factor that is consistently found to improve the quality of your care is-Who is providing your treatment? You can be assured that with a specialist orthodontist, you are placing your care in the very best of hands!
If you have any queries about orthodontics or would like a second opinion, make an appointment to see a qualified and highly experienced orthodontist by calling (08) 9381 2788 or contact us online.