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What is an orthodontist?

Does my child need to see a specialist orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dentist who undertakes an additional 2 to 3 years university training in Orthodontics.  Only an orthodontist has the post-graduate training to practice orthodontics.  Some dentists have an extra interest in orthodontics and may be able to treat more straight forward orthodontic problems if diagnosed correctly.


Orthodontists are dentists who have completed the usual 5 year university study but have then gone on to do an additional 2 to 3 years of specialist post-graduate study.  They only practice orthodontics and specialise in straightening teeth, making them bite together correctly along with treating facial irregularities.  

The New Zealand Association of Orthodontists (NZAO) is a professional organisation dedicated to ensuring you receive high quality specialist orthodontic care.  Members of the NZAO must have a recognised post-graduate qualification in orthodontics and are required to undergo regular professional development to maintain standards.  
Some dentists also provide orthodontic treatment for adults and children.  They provide non-specialist orthodontic treatment and treat patients with a more limited range of orthodontic problems.

Both use a variety of types of braces and may also offer Invisalign if appropriate.

How to decide your treatment provider

It is important you use a provider you are confident will provide you with an excellent outcome that not only looks good but will function well and last a life-time.  A dentist may be able to treat a straight forward problem but only an orthodontist can offer a specialist diagnosis and a full range of treatment options.  

Many cases will require specialist treatment.  Your dentist may advise you if the treatment required is outside their expertise; however if you are not certain do not hesitate to seek a second opinion.  You don’t need a referral from your dentist or dental therapist to make an appointment with a specialist orthodontist.