Did you know that you don’t need a referral from your dentist to visit an orthodontist? You can find and contact an orthodontist yourself – either as a new patient or to seek a second opinion. Our Find an Orthodontist tool allows you to search the Australian Society of Orthodontists members database to find a suitable practitioner.
What is an orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dental specialist. They complete an additional 3 years of university training on top of their general dental degree to become qualified. Their specialisation focusses on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of dental and facial irregularities to help correctly align teeth, bites and jaws.
While dentists and orthodontists share many similarities and work together to improve your overall oral health, they actually work in very different ways.
Dentists cover a broad range of oral health issues, while orthodontics is a dental specialisation focussing on straightening teeth and correcting improper bite patterns. To ensure the best level of care, it is essential that all patients are aware of the differences between dentists and orthodontists, and see the appropriate practitioner for their needs.
Therefore, it is recommended that you continue seeing your regular family dentist for check-ups and cleaning while undergoing your orthodontic treatment from a qualified specialist.
Why see an orthodontist?
Only an orthodontist has the specialist training, knowledge and experience to safely treat issues to do with the alignment of your teeth and jaws to ensure you, or your child, ends up with a healthy and confident smile.
Orthodontists specialise in dental and facial irregularities, including crooked and overcrowded teeth, protruding or misaligned teeth, bad bites that can damage the teeth and gums, gaps between your teeth, and misaligned jaws. These may be issues that have developed naturally over time or as a result of bad habits such as thumb sucking as a child.
Since your smile is one of your most prominent and important features, having confidence in your smile can create a positive change in your life, and you should always see a specialist orthodontist to correct your teeth.
While traditional metal braces are still an effective way of straightening teeth and achieving a great smile, modern advancements in orthodontic treatments mean they are no longer the only option. Your orthodontist will be able to assess which treatment option will best suit your smile and your lifestyle to ensure the best results.
When do I need a referral?
You don’t need a referral to visit an orthodontist. You can find and contact an orthodontist yourself. Simply phone and book an appointment directly! Your family dentist may recommend you visit a particular orthodontist, but you are under no obligation to do so and are free to choose whichever orthodontist you feel is best for you or your child.
When should I consult an orthodontist about my child’s smile?
Most people tend to associate braces with teenagers, so you may find it surprising to learn that Orthodontics Australia recommend children between the ages of 7-10 years visit a specialist orthodontist for their first assessment. An early trip to the orthodontist can help treat and prevent a number of oral issues you may not even be aware of, so early orthodontic evaluation is always a good idea.
Taking your child to see an orthodontist when they are young is a great way to spot any problems within their developing mouth and treat them before they turn into lifelong problems. Sometimes, catching these problems early on in life will save your child from potential surgery and complications in the future.
Other times, the orthodontist will advise if the issues are not urgent, and in these situations treatment can safely be delayed until the teenage years.
I think my wisdom teeth are coming through – should I consult an orthodontist?
Yes. If you start to feel wisdom teeth coming through, you should visit your family dentist or orthodontist to discuss the relevant treatment options for your individual case. They will be able to take a closer look at how the wisdom teeth are impacting on the rest of your teeth, arrange an x-ray of the teeth and jaws, and advise on whether you’ll need to take further action.
How to find an orthodontist near me
To see an orthodontist, no referral from a dentist is needed. If you have confidence in your family dentist, they may recommend you visit a particular orthodontist in your area so they can effectively work in tandem to ensure the best care for your teeth.
Alternatively, you can use our Find an Orthodontist tool to search our individual directory for a registered specialist orthodontist near you.
While you may choose to get a referral from your regular dentist, this is not a requirement when making an appointment with an orthodontist. Simply get in touch with the orthodontist practice directly to make your appointment.
Orthodontics Australia does not provide individual recommendations regarding selecting an orthodontist, however, all ASO members are registered specialist orthodontists and are all equally qualified to treat you and your family.