Can a dentist do orthodontics?
A registered dentist is allowed by law to do orthodontic procedures on a patient, in the same way as a medical GP is legally allowed to do complex surgery on a medical patient. However, most people wouldn’t want to visit their medical GP for specialised eye surgery!
Orthodontics, more than any other specialty area in dentistry requires a fully trained specialist to do the work, as it is often very long and complex. It takes years of speciality training to be able to competently undertake all orthodontic cases.
The problem is that quite often the public do not know if the person they are contemplating seeing is a general dentist or an orthodontist. This is because dentists may use the word “Orthodontics” on their websites and signs and as a result people can easily think it is an orthodontist they have booked in to see.
How to tell the difference?
Quite simply, ask the question” Are you a general dentist or a specialist orthodontist?”
Does it cost more to see an orthodontist?
Often it doesn’t and in many instances it costs much less. This is because an orthodontist, being confident of their ability, will give you a written total cost for your treatment – before you start.
General dentists on the other hand usually will give you an open ended estimate, which is an upfront fee to get started and then a certain dollar amount per visit. Unfortunately their treatment may end up going on and on.
Should I see a dentist or an orthodontist?
Well, it all depends on the kind of treatment you need. Both dentists and orthodontists have a valuable role to play in keeping your teeth healthy and beautiful.
Often, dentists and orthodontists will work together to offer patients holistic treatment. If your family dentist thinks you need orthodontic work, they’ll refer you to a specialist orthodontist. And if you need general dental, cosmetic work, or a tooth extraction to complement orthodontic work, your orthodontist will refer you to a dentist.
The value of a specialist
An orthodontist specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of teeth and jaw alignment issues. If you are experiencing problems in these areas, it pays to see a specialist orthodontist.
All orthodontists are trained, experienced dentists who have completed additional specialist qualification’s to become an orthodontist.
Orthodontists treat their patients in a holistic way, ensuring the most accurate diagnosis and treatment that is best suited to your unique needs. Specialist orthodontists are also much more efficient at achieving amazing results because they see thousands of cases each year. Chances are they’ve seen a handful of cases just like yours and know exactly how to get the best results.
In Australia an orthodontist must:
• Complete a Bachelor degree in Dentistry (a 5-year full-time University course)
• Complete a Masters degree in Orthodontics (a 3-year full-time University course)
• Be registered as a Specialist in Orthodontics by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)
The table below will help you decide who is best placed to help. Remember, you don’t need a referral to visit either a dentist or an orthodontist.