If you’ve been told that one of your children will need braces or orthodontic work in the near future, you’ve most likely had these thoughts:
Exactly how much work? And what will it cost? Will the insurance cover it? And who will we see?
The last question is so important because every parent wants a service provider who is not only trained properly and a specialist in their field, but also, value for money – both of which will only come from finding an orthodontist you trust, and can work with.
So what should parents do?
Dr Theresia Sudjalim, a practising specialist orthodontist in Melbourne, and also an Orthodontics Australia spokesperson, is a mother to two young children, so understands perfectly the apprehension many parents feel about orthodontic work for their kids.
Speaking to Mamamia, she said that some of the confusion around orthodontic treatment and who you should see can be clarified by properly understanding the different roles of a dentist and an orthodontist.
“The first thing parents must understand is that there’s a huge difference between a general dentist and an orthodontist. An orthodontist specialises in the straightening of teeth and the alignment of jaws,” Dr Sudjalim told Mamamia.
She explained that while orthodontists and dentists share many similarities, the big difference is that dentists cover a very broad range of oral health issues, whereas orthodontists are specialists focusing purely on straightening teeth and correcting bad bites and jaw irregularities. They both have dentistry degrees, but orthodontists complete an additional three years of university training to become specialists in the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of dental and jaw irregularities.
Dr Sudjalim strongly recommends that parents do their research when selecting an orthodontic service provider, as there's a difference between a dentist who can perform some orthodontic work (after doing a short course), and a qualified orthodontist. Put simply, orthodontists were once dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists. Not only is there the three years difference in education, but there's also an extra 5000 hours of practical training.