What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is concerned with the normal and abnormal growth and development of the face, jaws and teeth.
What is a specialist in Orthodontics?
The role of orthodontic specialists is to prevent and/or correct any abnormalities or irregularities in the position of teeth and jaws, and the way in which the teeth meet together, which is known as the bite or occlusion.
Specialists in Orthodontics may provide treatment in the primary care setting either in the NHS through the general dental services (GDS) or in private specialist practices. They may also work in the community dental services (CDS) as senior dental officers (SDOs), where they will provide a wide range of orthodontic services to a population in a particular area, or they may work in the hospital setting as an NHS consultant. Specialists can also be based in academic posts in dental schools and hospitals to provide both undergraduate and postgraduate education.
What treatment can a specialist in Orthodontics carry out?
A specialist in Orthodontics can diagnose abnormalities in the growth or development of the teeth and jaws and assess the needs for orthodontic treatment. They may plan to prevent or correct these abnormalities through extractions of teeth and with appliances that are commonly known as braces.
These appliances may be fixed to the teeth or may be removable by the patient and dentist. Some of these appliances that are used to correct an abnormal relationship of the jaws work using the developing muscles of the face and mouth, and are used in children around the growth spurt; these are called functional appliances.
As well as to improve function, some orthodontic treatment is carried out purely for aesthetic reasons – to improve the patient’s smile by repositioning and straightening the teeth in line with the arch of the mouth. However, a lot of the time, orthodontic treatment is carried for a combination of reasons.
What additional training and qualifications does a specialist in Orthodontics need?
A registered dentist must obtain an additional postgraduate qualification, the Membership in Orthodontics (MOrth), in order to apply for inclusion onto the specialist orthodontist list.
Although not an essential requirement, many dentists will also have the Membership of the Faculty of Dental Surgery (MFDS or MFD) of one of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons or the Diploma of Membership of the Joint Dental Faculties (MJDF). This diploma normally takes two to three years to achieve, but is highly recommended by some postgraduate training programs prior to application.
The Membership of Orthodontics (MOrth) diploma involves three years of full-time (or equivalent part-time) postgraduate training. During this time, the trainees will gain clinical experience in a dental hospital as well as academic study in a university. The trainees will also be required to study for the Masters degree (MSc) in orthodontics.
Upon completion of training, the trainees will sit an examination for MOrth, and if successful will gain a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training (CCST). This certificate allows the dentist to apply for registration to be included on the GDC’s specialist list and be known as a Specialist in Orthodontics.
To be appointed an NHS Consultant in the hospital setting, a specialist in Orthodontics must have successfully completed a further two years of an SAC approved training programme working as a specialist registrar (SpR) in Orthodontics to obtain the Intercollegiate Fellowship in Orthodontics, FDS(Orth), from the Royal Colleges of Surgeons.