What does an orthodontist do? In this blog post we thought we’d go through some of the common questions we get asked about orthodontics and what orthodontists do. We will explain some of the problems an orthodontist can solve, along with some of the orthodontic treatments, plus we”ll also look at why it’s important to support your local orthodontist.
Are all orthodontists the same?
No. Firstly, it’s important to know the difference between a dentist offering orthodontic treatments and an orthodontist.
- Dentist – a dentist will have a bachelors degree in dental science BDS. If they offer orthodontic treatments this may be because they have attended short courses in treatments such as Invisalign or the Inman aligner. These orthodontic systems are deliberately designed to be reasonably simple to prescribe and treat to make them as available as possible.
- Orthodontist – is also a dentist, so will have a BDS degree from dental school. An orthodontist will also have undertaken a Masters degree in orthodontics and be registered with the General Dental Council as a specialist orthodontist. This means, that in addition to offering treatments such as Invisalign or the Inman aligner (available to general dentist) an orthodontist can use that additional skills to treat a wide range of dental problems with complex treatments solutions which are not available to a general dentist.
Which leads to a logical second question… Are all specialist orthodontist’s the same?
The answer to this is also NO!
Some orthodontic practices also work with orthodontic therapists, these are specially trained therapists which treat patients and are able to assist the orthodontist in some basic treatments. Some specialist orthodontist practices also work in large treatment areas with multiple dental chairs in the same room. This allows the orthodontist and therapists to quickly switch between patients, ensuring they can see the maximum number of patients each day.
Other specialist orthodontists, such as our specialist orthodontist practice in Ewell, prefer to do see patients in a more private way in individual rooms, without using orthodontic therapists and with the specialist orthodontist seeing every patient right from the beginning of treatment through to the end. This gives continuity of care because:
- You see the same person every time
- The person you see (a specialist orthodontist) has an holistic approach to your treatment as they understand every aspect
- Continuity of care to ensure you know the person you are going to see
- When you visit a small local orthodontist, you have a relationship with the person… When you visit a larger orthodontist you have a relationship with the brand that is far less personal.
- Small local orthodontist, such as ours have been here for many years and aren’t going anywhere!
Please remember to always #supportlocal and visit your local specialist orthodontist, if you don’t support small and local we may not always be here to support you!
So now we’ve told you all there is to know about orthodontists, let’s get on with some more technical questions that people often ask.
Do all your baby teeth have to fall out before you can get braces
Not necessarily. An orthodontist will often prefer to work with the jaw as it grows, this allows them to influence the way the teeth move and erupt in adolescent years. Sometimes baby teeth don’t fall out, so if you wait until all of the baby teeth have come out you may have missed this unique opportunity to work with the body through its growth and development stages.
It’s never too early to see an orthodontist… However it can easily be too late!
What is the best age to get braces
This depends on what the exact problem is. Many specialist orthodontist’s work with children as young as 5 years old. It may be possible to see at the skeletal arrangement of a child is such that there is a high probability of problems developing into adulthood. Your specialist orthodontist may be able to undertake preventive orthodontics, to prevent teeth being crooked in adulthood. The best way to find out is to visit your local orthodontist and have a discussion early on.
Types of orthodontic treatment
There are a wide range of orthodontic treatments, including preventative treatments which can be used on children as they grow, through to complex orthodontic appliances which can correct severely crooked teeth.
The basic types of orthodontic fall into one of 2 categories:
- Fixed. Whilst fixed orthodontics may be more uncomfortable right at the very beginning (because you can’t remove the pressure on your teeth by taking the appliance out) they tend to have a wider range of treatments and work quicker. Treatments include systems such as:
- Removable. There is sometimes a need to use a removable appliance prior to having a fixed appliance. One of the biggest downsides of removable orthodontics is that they can sometimes be a little uncomfortable, this can lead to the patient taking them out. If the appliances not worn for long enough each day then treatment times can be drastically extended. Patient compliance is incredibly important with any removal orthodontic treatment. Treatments include systems such as:
What causes crooked teeth
As with many things in life they nature and nurture. Some people are born with the bone structure which simply can’t support the number of teeth that are going to come through. The upper jaw may be too small or the lower jaw may be too small, in either case this can result in malocclusion and/or crooked teeth.
The way we act in the modern world can also have a large influence on the development of our jaw. As we grow the muscles around the face, head and neck have a large impact on how the bones grow through adolescence. Chewing food inadequately means the tongue muscle isn’t used as well is it could be, the muscles around the face and develop as much and all of this can lead to the development of the jaw.
Posture can also have a large impact, it has been shown that patients with a protruding lower jaw tend to position their head more vertically and have a shorter face, with those with a retruded lower jaw tend to the head more backwards and have a longer face. The same research indicated that an adaptive head position can be a factor in altering the direction of facial growth. These are what is known as underbites and overbites.
There are many factors at play, so if you’re concerned about a young child is advisable to take them to an orthodontist as young as possible.
BDS FDSRCS MSc Morth
Faiza Lewis (nee Darugar) has been a Dentist for over 26 years and a Specialist Orthodontist for 17 years. She graduated from Birmingham Dental School in 1993 and from Guy’s Hospital in Orthodontics in 2002. She has had a variety of hospital jobs in maxillofacial surgery and working for the Wandsworth Community Dental Service before starting the 3 year Specialisation Programme in Orthodontics