Should General and Pediatric Dentists Perform Orthodontics?

Is adding orthodontics to your practice worth it?

Although licensed general dentists in the U.S. can provide orthodontic services, most general and pediatric dentists refer patients needing braces to orthodontic practices. General and pediatric dentists who offer orthodontic care must be able to meet or exceed the standard of care expected of professionals who offer braces and associated orthodontic appliances.

In a survey about general dentists and orthodontics, 74% of respondents thought that general and pediatric dentists should perform orthodontics, as long as the dentist has completed continuing education (CE) courses and can uphold standards of care. Moreover, many dentists who have incorporated orthodontics into their practice by taking CE courses maintain that knowing their patient’s dental conditions before applying orthodontic treatment helps them preserve higher standards of care. 

What factors support the benefits of general and pediatric dentists including orthodontics in their practice?

Lack of Orthodontic Treatment in Rural Areas

According to the 2020 census, the U.S. is home to nearly 332 million people. However, over 46 million live in rural areas where access to medical and dental care is severely lacking.

Having no public transportation services and substandard dental health insurance force many rural Americans to visit a general dentist only when they need a tooth pulled or filled. A 2020 report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that 60% of dental provider shortages exist in rural areas.

By taking continuing education courses to provide orthodontic treatments, general and pediatric dentists working in rural areas can easily incorporate orthodontics into their practice and significantly improve the oral health of children and teenagers.

General and pediatric dentists are an integral part of the future of orthodontics.

Dentists spend nearly a decade attending universities, doing internships or residencies, taking numerous exams, and obtaining their license to practice dentistry. It should be up to the dentist to decide whether they feel comfortable providing orthodontic services to patients. In addition, about half of all orthodontic work is cosmetic. This means a dentist who takes orthodontic CE courses can decide to offer cosmetic orthodontic treatment only, rather than functional or medically needed orthodontics. The option to choose what kind of orthodontics a dentist prefers providing to patients is another reason general and pediatric dentists can realistically consider incorporating orthodontics into their practice.

Orthodontics encourages retention of patients and expansion of a dental practice.

Incorporating orthodontics into a general or pediatric dentistry practice allows dentists to eliminate the need for referrals. Recognizing potential malocclusion problems in young children is vital to initiating orthodontic treatment before the problem requires more extensive dental work. Dentists who take CE courses for orthodontics can continue taking care of patients from childhood to adulthood.

Busy parents don’t have the time or energy to schedule different appointments at different dental practices. In rural and rural suburban areas, they may have access to a local dentist, but they may have to drive 20 miles to take their child for orthodontic treatment. One of the best ways to expand a smaller dental practice is to provide orthodontics as well as general dentistry services. Moreover, CE courses make it easy and convenient for general and pediatric dentists to grow their businesses and ensure patients receive the best dental care possible.

The option to refer is still available where needed. 

The future of dentistry is expected to include cutting-edge technologies, robotics, and even augmented reality in a variety of dental treatments. In some cases, general dentists providing orthodontics may have a particularly difficult case that requires the use of advanced technology for accurate diagnosis and treatment. Dentists choosing to incorporate orthodontics in their practice always have the option to make referrals when they do not feel comfortable diagnosing or treating complex oral health issues.

Patients with braces can be closely monitored.

As a general or pediatric dentist, you get the opportunity to know your patients pretty well. In some cases you may have even been treating several generations of the same family. When you provide orthodontic treatments to your patients, not only do you continue to build those relationships with your patients, but those relationships further encourages patients to show up for all appointments and more readily inform you of problems. This ensures you can closely monitor and ensure your patients’ teeth are moving according to expectations. 

Be a part of the future of dentistry by enrolling in orthodontics continuing education courses with the AOS.

The American Orthodontic Society (AOS) has been offering straight wire orthodontic courses for nearly 40 years. Our educational program for general and pediatric dentists makes it easy to add orthodontics to your practice within one year from the day you begin coursework.

The senior instructor for AOS’ basic and intermediate courses in straight wire orthodontics is Dr. Bradford R. Williams, Sr., DDS. Originally a general practice dentist, Dr. Williams completed his first AOS orthodontic course in 1983 and now possesses in-depth knowledge of major orthodontic techniques, including Straight Wire, Tip-Edge, and Begg. After completing well over 1000 orthodontic treatment cases, Dr. Williams is now an AOS Diplomate and former board member of the American Orthodontic Society.

To learn more about enrolling in orthodontic CE courses, contact AOS today by calling 972-234-4000 or visiting our website to register for courses.

To learn more about our popular orthodontics courses for pediatric and general dentists, check out one of the upcoming events below.

March 1-2, 2024

AOS Event Center
1785 State Highway 26
Grapevine, Texas 76051

1st Session: March 8-10, 2024

AOS Event Center
1785 State Highway 26
Grapevine, Texas 76051

April 12-13, 2024

AOS Event Center
1785 State Highway 26
Grapevine, Texas 76051

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