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In Australia, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to the range of oral health services available to us. With general dentists, oral surgeons and orthodontists, it can be a little confusing to know who you need to be seeing and for which reason. Here at Ethos, we notice that our patients are often unsure of the difference between orthodontists and dentists. It’s helpful to know if you are required to visit your dentist for a referral before seeing an orthodontist, or if your local dentist can apply braces as part of your treatment plan. So, we’ve outlined some of the key differences between the two, to help you better understand what we offer here at Ethos and which treatment is best for you.

What is the role of a dentist?

All qualified Australian dentists must complete a General Dental Degree before practising. Dentists are skilled general practitioners who can diagnose and treat oral health problems and common diseases affecting teeth, mouth and gums. Some reasons you may visit a general dentist include:

Keep in mind that while dentists can advise on braces treatments, that are not specialists in orthodontic treatment, so we recommend visiting your orthodontist for teeth straightening cases.

What is the role of an orthodontist?

Qualified and practising orthodontists must complete a General Dental Degree and an additional three years of university training in orthodontics. This training includes the study of facial growth, development, biology and biomechanics, which are some of the key specialties of an orthodontist vs dentist. These qualifications allow orthodontists to diagnose and treat crooked teeth, bad bites, and poorly aligned jaws. Although orthodontists are accredited with the same General Dental Degree as dentists, they have completed additional postgraduate qualifications. Orthodontists are qualified to treat children, teens and adults. You may wish to visit an orthodontist to treat problems such as:

  • Crooked teeth that require braces 
  • Incorrect jaw alignment that needs adjustment 
  • Broken braces brackets or wires during treatment

Should you visit a dentist or orthodontist for wisdom teeth removal?

While undertaking orthodontic treatment, your orthodontist will examine your wisdom teeth and evaluate whether they are likely to affect the positioning of your teeth in the future. This is often discussed in the initial treatment planning. In cases where your wisdom teeth require removal, an orthodontist may refer you to a dentist. However, if your wisdom teeth appear to be severely impacted, a specialist surgeon may need to safely remove them under general anaesthetic. General dentists can also remove them if a specialist is not required.

Do you need to visit a dentist before seeing an orthodontist?

While most dental and orthodontic treatments work hand-in-hand, you do not need to see a dentist before an orthodontist for a referral. Additionally, you are not required to visit the orthodontist your dentist recommends. Often if you need orthodontic treatment, your general dentist will suggest a clinic that they have a positive working relationship with or one they think might be best suited for your needs.

Which orthodontist should you choose?

Given that treatments generally last between six months and two years, you need to choose an orthodontist close by and easily accessible to you. At Ethos, we have nine locations across the Brisbane area, from North Lakes and Redcliffe, all the way down to Browns Plains and Loganholme. We pride ourselves on our experience as our team is hand-picked by our founders Dr Marcus Tod and Dr Kent Farmer, who share more than 50 years of orthodontic experience.

You also want to ensure that your chosen orthodontist is someone you feel comfortable with, as orthodontic treatment can be nerve wracking at times. Don’t feel uncomfortable asking your chosen orthodontist what qualifications or credentials they have. You are trusting them to work on your teeth, so you have the right to feel safe and comfortable throughout your entire treatment. If you have any questions about orthodontic versus dental treatments or what Ethos can offer you, speak to our friendly team today to learn more!