Do I Need A Dentist Referral To See An Orthodontist?
New and potential patients often ask if they need a referral from their general dentist to see an orthodontist. Referrals are a common misunderstanding amongst patients, and the answer is no – you do not need a referral from a dentist to visit an orthodontic specialist. New patients are encouraged to contact an orthodontic office and schedule an appointment for an initial consultation. Also, most orthodontic practices do not charge a fee for this service!
What's the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist
An orthodontic specialist corrects dental and facial irregularities. According to the Canadian Association of Orthodontists, they are experts in moving teeth, helping jaws develop correctly, and work closely with patients to ensure the teeth stay in their new positions. The Canadian Dental Association requires orthodontic specialists to have at least two years of post-doctoral, advanced specialty training in orthodontics in an accredited program after college and then dental school. It's beneficial to keep in mind that all orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are in the specialty of orthodontics.
When should I consider a visit?
Patients who are not happy with the appearance of their smile, or advised by their dentist that orthodontic treatment would be beneficial, should consider an orthodontic consultation. Patients typically seek treatment due to misaligned, crooked, or crowded teeth or if a bite problem is detected. Everyone deserves a smile they are proud to show off every single day, and no one should have to feel insecure or embarrassed about the alignment of their teeth or jaw.
It's also important to note that children should have an orthodontic evaluation performed at the first sign of orthodontic problems. Such problems can include overcrowding, a noticeable overbite, underbite, crossbite, breathing issues, smile embarrassment, or prominent oral behaviors such as thumb sucking, trouble chewing, or speech impediments. The Canadian Association of Orthodontists recommends a child should see an orthodontist no later than age seven, simply because issues are easier to correct if detected early.
What happens when I visit an orthodontist?
Each initial consultation experience will differ from practice to practice, but the main goal is to get to know the orthodontist and learn about their treatment philosophy. It's a necessary time to ask questions to ease any concerns or anxieties you have regarding treatment. Offices will require new patients to fill out multiple forms, including your medical history, dental history, and insurance, which are crucial to the success of your treatment. A treatment coordinator will introduce you to the practice and what it offers, followed by an assistant taking orthodontic X-rays, photos, and scans of your teeth and bite. Next, you will meet with the orthodontist for an orthodontic examination and, upon review, the orthodontist will provide you with a potential treatment plan.
What are the benefits of orthodontic treatment?
There are multiple benefits of orthodontic treatment that go far beyond a straight smile. Misaligned teeth are more susceptible to major oral health problems, including tooth decay and gum disease. Proper tooth alignment can help gums fit appropriately around the teeth, which reduces the risk of gum disease. Misaligned teeth are also more challenging to clean, even with regular brushing and flossing. Overcrowded or crooked teeth are more likely to gather food
particles, and if not effectively cleaned, it could lead to tooth decay. Bad bites, otherwise known as malocclusion, can also create unwanted challenges with speaking, chewing, and overall discomfort. There are also psychological benefits associated with orthodontic treatment. Patients who are unsatisfied or embarrassed with their smiles can benefit from increased self-esteem and confidence.
If you are considering treatment, don't wait for a referral. Take the first step today and contact an orthodontic practice to see if it's the appropriate option for you and your smile.