When to see a specialist orthodontist (and when you should be seeing a dentist)

Your family dentist works hand-in-hand with various specialists, including orthodontists, to look after the complete oral health of your whole family.

Whether you want to get your teeth whitened, your child needs braces or you’re thinking about getting your own teeth straightened, understanding when to see an orthodontist ensures you’re seeing the right person for the job at hand.

Since all orthodontists begin their careers as dentists before studying for an extra three years to specialise in orthodontics, the difference between the two professions can be a bit confusing. Despite their dual qualifications, whilst you’re in the midst of orthodontic treatment, it is important to see your general dentist every six months to check for cavities and any early signs of gum disease.

When to see an orthodontist about your smile:

  1. 1. Teeth straightening

    Whether you want to get metal braces, ceramic braces, lingual braces or even clear aligner treatment, an orthodontist is the place to go. They’re the experts in teeth straightening, and dedicate their professional lives to this all day, every day.

  2. 2. Issues with jaw alignment

    If your jaw is misaligned from an accident or as the result of crooked teeth, you should make an appointment with an orthodontist to discover the options available to help you correct the problem.

  3. 3. Broken brackets or wires

    If you’re currently undergoing orthodontic treatment and have broken a bracket, wire or clear aligner tray, you should make an appointment with your orthodontist as early as possible to correct the problem.

These are certainly not the only reasons to make an appointment with an orthodontist, but are the most common appointments orthodontists are likely to see.


And here are three times to make an appointment with your family dentist:

  • 1. General oral health

    As noted above, even while undergoing orthodontic treatment, it is important to still maintain regular appointments with your general dentist for cleaning and to maintain your oral health.

  • 2. Teeth whitening

    While some orthodontists may offer teeth whitening to their patients at the end of their treatment period, for general patients it is best to book in for your teeth whitening with your family dentist.

  • 3. Fillings and extractions

    As part of your regular check-up you may require a filling or a cleaning, which your general dentist will perform. If any extractions are required prior to commencing orthodontic treatment, your orthodontist will refer you back to your dentist for this procedure.


Should I see a dentist or an orthodontist for my wisdom teeth?

During the course of your orthodontic treatment, your orthodontist will assess whether your wisdom teeth are likely to affect the positioning of your teeth – now and in the future. This is often also a part of the initial orthodontic treatment planning.

However, if your wisdom teeth require straightforward removal, you’re likely to be referred back to your general dentist. If your wisdom teeth appear to be severely impacted, you may be referred on to a specialist oral and maxillo-facial surgeon to safely remove them under general or local anaesthetic.

You can search for an orthodontist near you using our Finder Tool.

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