I was recently looking at someones’ Instagram and saw a reference to an orthodontic practice I hadn’t seen before. Following the link to the practice, I had a look at what they had to offer and soon realised this was something different to what I had seen before.

Traditionally, if you wanted orthodontic treatment, you would go to an orthodontic practice which would have been run by a dentist on the orthodontic specialist register (i.e. someone who had received additional specialist training and passed exams on orthodontics) and who usually only dealt with teeth straightening.

A number of years ago, dentists started offering limited orthodontic treatment alongside their other treatments and from a patient perspective, it became less clear on whether you were being treated by a specialist orthodontist or a dentist with an interest and training in orthodontics.

If you did your research, you would be able to easily find out as the GDC requires all dentists to accurately describe their qualifications and to include their GDC registration number on their website or promotional material. A quick check of the GDC public database would confirm whether you were being treated by a specialist or not. The other key difference was that usually orthodontic practices were named ‘x orthodontics’ whereas general dental practices rarely used the word ‘orthodontics’ in their name.

The practice I referred to earlier is called ‘x orthodontics’ which on first glance you would assume was a ‘specialist’ orthodontic practice which to an extent it is as it just ‘specialises’ in orthodontics. Where it becomes, from a patient perspective, less clear is that, as far as I can see from the information on their website, they do not have a specialist orthodontists providing treatment and are staffed by dentists.

I’m certainly not making any comment on the range of treatments provided or the quality of the patient experience which I’m sure will be very good and in terms of GDC guidelines, they are perfectly entitled to use the name ‘x orthodontics’. From a patients perspective, this practice may have created a new category of orthodontic treatment provision which I have called the ‘ortho-dentist’. It will be interesting to see how this develops over the next few years.

Image © unsplash.com / Michael Browning