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How do you know if you’re seeing the best person for your orthodontic care?

July 5, 2024
How do you know if you’re seeing the best person for your orthodontic care?

When considering orthodontic treatment as an adult, you want to be confident that you’ve selected the right practitioner for your smile.

As well as specialist orthodontists, there are also many general dentists who offer some orthodontic services so knowing who you should see can be confusing. There are also potentially dangerous mail-order “DIY” treatment options appearing on the market – these should definitely be avoided.

While there might be a number of factors that help you decide which provider is right for you, there are some important differences to consider when deciding whether to see a specialist orthodontist or a general dentist.

Why should you see an orthodontist for your orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontists are fully trained and registered specialists. After completing their general dental degree, they returned to university for another three years of full-time study to become a specialist in orthodontics. This means that they are trained to provide all types of orthodontic treatments, from plates, braces and lingual “inside” braces through to clear aligner treatments such as Invisalign®, Spark® or 3M Clarity®.

What would you do with 3 years? (2019)

This additional study allowed them to focus their attention on straightening teeth, as well as diagnosing and correcting irregularities of the face and jaw. This is what they do best. In fact, it’s what they do all day, every day.

What’s the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?

Orthodontists and dentists both help patients improve their oral health, but in different ways. All registered dentists have studied dentistry, which provides general training in the health and management of the teeth, gum, jaw, and nerves. However, orthodontics is a recognised specialty of dentistry that focuses on facial growth, correcting bites, and straightening teeth.

What you might not know is that all orthodontists began their career as dentists before completing an additional three years of full-time university study in orthodontics, which involves extensive education in the areas of facial growth, biology, tooth movement and applied mechanics. All orthodontists have also completed peer-reviewed scientific research as part of their full-time specialist training at university. These orthodontic research projects continue to increase the knowledge base in molecular and biomaterial science, genetics, engineering and human growth and development. This means that specialist orthodontists are the most qualified practitioners to evaluate new strategies and methods to deliver the best result for your smile.

How to tell if you’re seeing an orthodontist

There are many ways you can be sure what type of practitioner (i.e. general dentist or specialist orthodontist) you’re seeing and to feel confident in making the best decision for your smile, whether you’re in their waiting room or searching online.

See what services they offer. While orthodontists were once dentists, they no longer practice general dentistry, instead focusing solely on orthodontic procedures. If your orthodontic practitioner also offers general dental services, such as cleanings, fillings and teeth whitening then they are almost certainly not an orthodontist.

What is an orthodontist?

Look for the Australian Society of Orthodontists (ASO) or the Orthodontics Australia logos. These logos will be clearly displayed at their practice and online, and only qualified orthodontists are eligible to become members of the ASO and have access to these materials.

Check their official registration details with AHPRA. This government regulatory body keeps track of all practicing health practitioners and their qualifications. An orthodontist will be registered with AHPRA as both a general dentist and a specialist dentist. If your orthodontic provider is missing the second qualification (i.e. no “specialist dentist” registration), they’re not a specialist orthodontist.

Are you getting the highest quality treatment?

Even if you are seeing an orthodontist, treatment can be different from practice to practice. Here are some tell-tale signs that you are getting a high-quality experience from your orthodontic provider:

  • Your orthodontist will discuss all reasonable and relevant orthodontic treatment options for your individual case, along with the expected benefits and costs. In addition, any advantages and/or limitations of each option should be explained.
  • Your orthodontist will create a customised treatment plan for you and take you through all the steps required to get the desired outcome, making you feel at ease about the journey ahead.
  • Your orthodontist will focus on the long-term outcomes for your teeth and talk about how to retain your beautiful smile for years to come.
  • Your orthodontist will assess your teeth at regular intervals throughout your orthodontic treatment to ensure it stays on track and is completed safely.
  • Your orthodontist is a true specialist and expert who cares about your oral health and will work with you every step of the way.

Find your specialist orthodontist now

Whether you have a provider in mind and want to check if they’re a registered specialist orthodontist or are just beginning your search for a practitioner and want to find one near you, you can use our Finder Tool.

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  • Carmen Goodger says:

    My daughter had a ‘course of orthodontic treatment’, or braces by a dental practitioner in town, Dr Tendai Nyoni.
    The entire service was lazy, rushed, poor quality (I could go on here), and my daughters teeth are still crooked, especially at the bottom! There is even a bit of leftover glue on one or 2 teeth.
    My question is, how do I find out if he is qualified to perform orthodontic services like braces, and if so what should be involved as part for the full treatment, including plates and aftercare?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Orthodontics Australia says:

      Hi Carmen,

      There are a number of ways you can check on the qualifications of your provider.

      You can try using our Finder Tool to search for their name – if they are a registered specialist orthodontist and ASO member then you should be able to find them here:

      It’s important to note, that while the majority of Australian orthodontists are ASO members, there is a small percentage who aren’t.

      You can also look them up in the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA):
      Search for their name – an orthodontist will be registered as BOTH a general dentist and a dental specialist (specialty: orthodontics).

      We hope this helps!

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