Why Every Dentist Should Understand Orthodontics

Orthodontics is part of the comprehensive care you provide your patients. 

Patients have high expectations of their general and pediatric dentists because they are essentially their primary care doctor of the mouth. So when you see patients, it should be every general and pediatric dentist’s goal to provide comprehensive care, and this means being able to diagnose and treat everything from preventive care to orthodontics. 

Every dentist should understand orthodontics, but unfortunately most have a very basic foundation and lack any orthodontic diagnosis and treatment skills. This is not because a dentist chooses not to treat orthodontic patients, but because there is little to no training in this area in dental school. 

The American Orthodontic Society (AOS) helps bridge the gap for dentists wanting to treat orthodontic patients and expand their practice to offer all areas of dentistry. The future of orthodontics is constantly evolving, which is why it is even more important for dentists to understand how orthodontics impacts prosthodontics, periodontics, and pediatric dentistry. 

A key reason why every dentist needs to understand orthodontics includes providing comprehensive care, but there are several other important reasons as listed below.

1. Undiagnosed issues can harm patients.

If your patient needs orthodontics and it is going innocently undiagnosed, it means your patient’s oral and general health can be compromised. For pediatric patients who need early orthodontics, including expansion and braces, early detection can mean avoiding complicated treatment when they are older and improving the width of their palate to allow for permanent teeth to erupt. For older patients, orthodontics is not just about straightening teeth, but correcting bite problems that contribute to TMJ, pain, and headaches. 

When only 10% to 20% of orthodontic issues are being diagnosed, it is problematic for patients. Imagine if only 10% to 20% of teeth were being cleaned or 10% to 20% of tooth decay was diagnosed. You can easily see how this could dramatically affect a patient’s oral health. Thus, when a limited number of orthodontic cases are diagnosed, it means patients have malocclusions that can affect their health. This is one reason why every dentist should have an understanding of why orthodontic intervention is important, and what to look for to know whether your patient needs more specialist care. 

2. All dentists can treat orthodontics with training

Dentists should understand orthodontics because they have the ability to treat these issues for their patients. Dentists, including pediatric, family, and cosmetic dentists, can treat mild to moderate malocclusions with proper training. The AOS offers courses for dentists who may have had limited exposure to the principles of orthodontics to give them the background necessary to use straight wire orthodontics for their patients. 

When you take a basic or intermediate course with the AOS, you get the confidence and professional support system it takes to offer orthodontics in your practice. Many dentists feel they cannot treat orthodontics because they don’t have the training, but when you take the initiative to sign up for an orthodontic continuing education course, this can change. 

3. You understand your patients’ needs.

You, more than anyone, know your patients’ oral health needs, their personalities, and their dental goals. When you understand orthodontics, you can offer to help close a gap between a person’s teeth or correct a bite to create a more esthetic smile. Your patients trust you because you are their go-to person when it comes to their oral health. When you understand orthodontics, it avoids the unnecessary hassle of your patient finding a new orthodontic provider and possibly letting their orthodontic treatment go untreated. It also means you are not referring those cases away and losing valuable revenue for your practice as well as the long-term relationship you have built with your patient. 

4. Orthodontics can be life changing for patients

Patients who come in discussing issues like teeth grinding or snoring should not be ignored. Oftentimes, these pesky habits are a symptom of something more serious like sleep apnea or TMJ. If you are able to diagnose a patient before symptoms progress, it can avoid long-term pain and dental problems. Braces can correct a multitude of issues, including a misaligned bite that contributes to teeth fracturing, grinding and clenching, and problems eating. 

When you educate yourself in orthodontics by taking an orthocourse with the AOS, you are not only advancing your knowledge and skills, but providing a valuable service for your patients. 

5. Early treatment for young patients should not be optional, but a necessity. 

Every dentist needs to understand orthodontics because when you are able to diagnose a pediatric patient early enough, it can avoid problems like teeth crowding, jaw misalignment, and self-esteem issues. Many children can benefit from orthodontics because when teeth are flared and not in the proper position, they are more likely to fracture in sports or an injury.

It is estimated that at least 45% of pediatric patients could benefit from orthodontics to correct a functional problem, which means that, without orthodontic training, these malocclusions can go undiagnosed. Taking an orthodontic course with the American Orthodontic Society is a simple solution to prevent kids from going without early braces and not correcting necessary issues.

The AOS offers an orthodontic course for dentists at every stage in their career. 

There are multiple reasons why all dentists should receive some orthodontic training in their careers. Orthodontics is a dental field that is connected to all areas of dentistry, and having a solid foundation is a tool that can benefit patients and a dental practice. Without proper orthodontic training, both pediatric and adult patients can go undiagnosed and untreated, leaving them with both long-term dental and health problems.

 If you are looking to expand your dental skills, orthodontics could be a rewarding career path. Visit the AOS today, and find a course to suit you. 

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

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