What is a specialist orthodontist?

In the UK a specialist orthodontist is a dentist who has undergone three years of dedicated training in orthodontics.

There are a number of specialist areas in dentistry, including oral surgery, endodontics (root canal therapy) and prosthodontics (restorative treatments such as bridges and crowns). Orthodontics is a speciality that’s concerned with treating irregularities of the teeth and jaws. In most cases this involves straightening teeth with fixed and/or removable braces.

What does specialist orthodontic training involve?

Before a dentist can train to be a specialist orthodontist they must be registered with the General Dental Council, hold a dental degree and be able to demonstrate experience in a range of dental specialities. Entry to orthodontic training posts is very competitive, and many applicants will also already hold a postgraduate qualification.

During their specialist training, orthodontists will undertake a postgraduate qualification, either at Masters or Doctorate level. Training takes place in a hospital environment and involves theory as well as hands-on practice.

At the end of the course, students sit an examination for Membership in Orthodontics from the Royal College of Surgeons. Once they have passed this examination and achieved a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training they can be registered as a specialist orthodontist with the General Dental Council.

Can only a specialist orthodontist straighten teeth?

Both dentists and orthodontists can straighten teeth in the UK. In addition to the specialist training route, there are other courses that dentists can complete to increase their knowledge of orthodontics.

An example of this training route is a dentist with a special interest in orthodontics (DwSI in Orthodontcs) is a dentist who has trained in orthodontics and recognised by the commissioners of orthodontic care. However, they are not eligible to be listed as a specialist orthodontist on the GDC register.

To demonstrate their competence on an ongoing basis, DwSI in Orthodontics are expected to continue their education in the field of orthodontics and take part in relevant networks and study groups. They will usually focus on treating mild to moderate cases, referring more complex problems onto a specialist orthodontist.

DwSI in Orthodontics are expected to provide the same high standard of a care as an orthodontist and work within their limits. If you’re researching a provider or looking for a clinician, it’s important to consider hands-on experience and customer satisfaction as well as qualifications and education.

Where can I find a specialist orthodontist?

You can find a specialist orthodontist in your area through the GDC website. Or, if you are looking for a specialist orthodontist with an interest in lingual braces, you can search the BLOS members’ database.