Dr Michael Riley

Orthodontist or Dentist?

A recent survey found that 30% of people didn’t know the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist so if you are confused, you are not alone!

An orthodontist is a qualified specialist who has first trained to become a dentist, and then undertaken a further three year postgraduate course at Masters or Doctorate level. Orthodontic training posts are highly sought after and before a dentist can begin their orthodontic training they need to gain experience working in maxillofacial surgery, restorative dentistry and paediatric dentistry. Specialist training takes place in hospitals linked to university dental schools and it’s a full time commitment. Trainees learn the theory of orthodontics and also gain experience treating members of the public. At the end of their studies, trainee orthodontists sit the Membership in Orthodontics examination of the Royal College of Surgeons. This qualification, along with a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training allows them to register as a specialist orthodontist with the General Dental Council. Once all is said and done, an orthodontist goes through around 10 years of training. This commitment to the specialty means that orthodontists have a great passion for what they do!

While technically speaking, an orthodontist is a dentist, their commitment to their specialty often means they only do orthodontic treatment. This means that we use a team approach to your dental care working alongside your dentist and hygienist. During orthodontic treatment you still need regular preventative care from your dentist and hygienist. Also you may require fillings or extractions during treatment which your dentist will provide. For more complex cases involving implants or bridges we will plan your treatment together with your dentist.

My dentist offers teeth straightening options. Why do I need an orthodontist?

Some dentists have taken courses on orthodontics. Often these weekend courses are sponsored by companies such as Invisalign®, Fastbraces®, or Six Month Smiles® and are primarily focused on teaching dentists the basics of those specific products. While these options may be the right choice for certain simple problems, many patients still prefer an expert to evaluate their case before investing the time and money associated with orthodontic treatment. This is why we offer free consultations.

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