5 fascinating facts about orthodontists

1. Orthodontists have more than 8 years of training

In the UK, it takes eight years to qualify as a specialist orthodontist. First, budding orthodontists must train as general dentists, which involves at least five years of study.

Before starting their specialist training, dentists gain valuable work experience in maxillofacial surgery, paediatric and restorative dentistry. Spaces on specialist courses are highly sought after, so the standard of applicants is very high.

The training itself takes three years. Successful graduates can then register as specialist orthodontists with the General Dental Council (GDC).

2. Only a small percentage of dentists are orthodontists

A very small number of dentists train to be orthodontists. In June 2020, 41,770 dentists were registered with the GDC, compared to just 1,384 orthodontists.

Over time, there has been a gender shift in dentistry and orthodontics. In the 19th century, only men could qualify as dentists. Now, just over 50% of specialist orthodontists are women.

Because of their small numbers, orthodontists can be hard to find in some areas. Thankfully, that’s not the case in Brighton & Hove. Splash Orthodontics boasts two highly experienced specialist orthodontists: Dr Iain Hoeltschi and Dr Sarah Grieve (both picture below right).

Female orthodontist









3. Orthodontists created the first dental speciality

Teeth straightening isn’t the only speciality in dentistry. But it was the first! Edward H. Angle was the first member of the dental professional to limit their practice to a specific treatment in 1900.

Other dental specialities include periodontics (gums), endodontics (roots) and prosthodontics (prostheses) – ‘dontics’ is derived from the Greek word for teeth.

Even if you’re having treatment with a specialist, it’s essential to see your dentist for routine check-ups. This is especially true during orthodontic treatment when it’s extra important to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

4. Orthodontists do more than straighten teeth

Orthodontic treatment isn’t just about appearances. We’re also interested in how your teeth function. We want you to enjoy a healthy, confident smile for many years to come.

Using fixed or removable braces, we can reposition your teeth to make sure they bite together correctly, helping you to chew efficiently and avoid uneven wear. As specialists, we treat some of the most complicated orthodontic cases, including multiple missing teeth, jaw discrepancies and cleft lips and palates.

In the UK, we’re lucky to have NHS orthodontic treatment for children who need braces to improve their dental health. Anyone under the age of 18 can be referred to an orthodontist for a free NHS assessment.

5. Orthodontists are always learning

There’s a vast amount of innovation in dentistry, which is incredibly exciting to be a part of. We can now treat most cases using discreet Invisalign aligners just as efficiently as traditional fixed braces. And instead of taking impressions using gloopy alginate, we can use our quick and comfortable digital scanner.

We speak for most orthodontists when we say, we love learning. From conferences to study clubs, there’s always something new for us to digest. To maintain our membership with the GDC, we’re committed to 100 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) every five years. This helps to guarantee the highest standard of dental care in the UK.

Dentistry is a close-knit community, so we also enjoy teaching and sharing our knowledge with our referring dentists and specialists. We regularly work together to provide our patients with the best possible experience and results.

To learn more about orthodontists, why not come and meet us for a complimentary consultation. To arrange your appointment with a specialist, contact us today.

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