Any dentist is able to legally able to perform orthodontic treatment but specialist orthodontists have obtained at least another 3 years (full-time) training in addition to their primary dental degree to become specialists. In the same way that your local GP doctor can legally deliver your baby, most women will opt for a specialist obstetrician to assist with their birth.
This difference can be confusing as some dentists will advertise that they perform orthodontic treatment and often patients misinterpret this to mean that they are an orthodontist. Your general dentist will have a basic dental degree such as a Bachelor of Dental Science and this is noted as BDSc or BDS.
Specialist Orthodontists have obtained a Masters degree in dental studies noted as MDSc or MOrth etc. If you want to be sure that the person performing your orthodontic treatment is a specialist, ensure they have this additional Masters qualification. On top of these main degrees, dentists and orthodontists can also be members of various societies and clubs. These memberships are voluntary and are not required by law to practice dentistry. Some people often wrongly assume that these “memberships” are degrees and therefore makes one dentist who has more memberships more “qualified” then another. A golfer who has more club memberships than another golfer is not necessarily a better golfer!
Dr Clark has a BDSc degree with Honours (Qld) and a MDSc (Syd) and is a member of the Australian Dental Association. He has been practising dentistry since 1987 and orthodontics since 1997.He has worked in all areas of dental employment and is currently a member of the Cutting Edge dental group which is a group of dental specialists that lectures to dentists and dental specialists both in Australia and overseas. His main interest is evidence based orthodontic treatment. He will explain all the treatment options available. All too often, patients are heavily influenced by media driven marketing and social media based opinion based treatments that are lacking a proven scientific basis. Use these medias to gain an overall understanding of treatment, but when it comes time to seek treatment, ask a specialist.