When exploring your dental options. how do you know if you need an Orthodontist or a Dentist? And what are the differences?
Well, we explain all of that right here.
Oral care specialists (such as orthodontists, periodontists), learn the essentials of their specialty and then typically only practice orthodontics – all day, every day.
These specialists do not do fillings, make crowns or false teeth, or perform any other “general dental procedures”.
Dentists who carry out orthodontics, therefore may struggle to recognise when a patient’s needs are beyond the skills they have learned in a weekend or series of part-time courses (which tend not to be recognised by universities as meriting an academic qualification).
The truth is that orthodontics is much more difficult than just putting some braces on some teeth and following a prescribed cookbook approach taught without the necessary breadth of diagnostic and clinical tools.
Dentists can practice orthodontics and many do so successfully, just as your general practitioner doctor can remove a mole or suture a cut. However when it comes to important areas of the face, difficult procedures, possible tumours, things likely to leave scars etc, your general practitioner is unlikely to choose to perform such procedures himself – you will be referred to a medical specialist for better quality of care.
The exact same situation applies to orthodontists and dentists. If the problem is difficult, unusual, or requires the best possible outcome, an orthodontist is much more likely to be able to provide the better quality treatment for you or your children.
Even the cost of treatment is often no different and specialist treatment may actually cost less than well-meaning but ineffective dentist treatment. Health fund rebates are higher for specialist treatments. The single largest area of complaint to Dental Boards in Australia is related to orthodontic treatment provided by general dentists.
Therefore, it is wise to carefully weigh up who you choose to provide the care for your smile that you desire. Dr Tony Weir has been is full time specialist practice of orthodontics for 30 years, and is an Honorary Senior lecturer at the University of Queensland. He lectures nationally and internationally to orthodontists on a regular basis.
As our name suggest. orthodontics is what we do day in and day out, all of the time.
We care for your smiles, and can’t wait to help you achieve your dream result.
Orthodontics is a sizeable investment in your child’s health.
As many parents are aware, good dental health will carry a person in good stead throughout their entire life. However, many people often don’t know whether their child or teenager does need braces. The best answer to this question will come from an orthodontist, but here are some factors that may indicate you need to make an appointment for appraisal:
- Mouth breathing
- Thumb or finger sucking
- Difficulty chewing or biting
- Biting the cheek or roof of the mouth
Excessive or long term thumb or finger sucking has long been known to cause dental differences. In some cases, excessive pacifier use will cause changes in the shape of the mouth and dental abnormalities. If you have an infant or toddler and you are worried about how thumb sucking or pacifier use may impact your child, talk to your dentist about implementing good habits for your child.
If you find that your child has food or particles consistently caught between their teeth despite proper brushing techniques and flossing (or an inability to floss certain areas) it may be an indication that braces are required.
You may also notice some other indicators such as crowding, misplaced or blocked-out teeth, as well as teeth that meet abnormally. If you can hear your child’s jaw making sounds you should seek a consultation with an orthodontist.
Other examples are:
- Early, late, or irregular loss of baby teeth. Your child’s dentist will be able to give an indication of whether your child is abnormal in this respect.
- If your child or teenager has jaws or teeth that are out of proportion to the rest of the face, protrude or are recessed.
Sleep-disordered breathing appears to be a significant problem for a proportion of children.
I see a lot of children whose parents ask questions about improving the breathing or airways of their children, often having already been informed such treatment is necessary and important by another dental professional. I would therefore like to briefly outline the scientific evidence currently available related to treatment of airway problems in children.
The first line of treatment is commonly the removal of enlarged adenoids and tonsils. This is well supported in the scientific literature and needs to be performed with the appropriate guidance from ENT specialist doctors
I would like to have something positive to say about the role of facial growth and orthodontics and treating childhood breathing problems. After all this is a problem and we would like to be able to help. However there is often a desire to “do something” without regard to the cost-benefit analysis – ie are we actually making a positive difference with our treatment for our patients?
Unfortunately there is no or minimal research evidence that supports the use of orthodontic treatment as part of the treatment of sleep disordered breathing in children. Some dental professionals promote “airway friendly orthodontics” but there is no reputable scientific support for many/most of the claims made for such treatment. It may give the appearance of “doing something” but appears to fail in any cost-benefit analysis in the majority of cases
There is very weak evidence that mode of breathing influences facial growth and skeletal pattern.
There is very weak evidence that orthodontic treatment has a role in treating sleep disordered breathing.
However, this is a growth area in orthodontics, with active promotion of orthodontic treatment in treating sleep disordered breathing.
So what do I believe, based on the best scientific evidence available?
My treatment will be directed at correcting problems of crowding and bite (occlusion) and if we get an improvement in breathing this will be a bonus. I certainly will not be informing my patients that I am carrying out treatment to improve their breathing. I can still sleep at night.
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