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Do I Need A Dentist Referral To See An Orthodontist?

Do I Need A Dentist Referral To See An Orthodontist?

Why Do People Think A Dentist Referral Is Necessary?

When I graduated from dental school some thirty years ago, it was an unwritten understanding that the dentist would let a patient or parent knows when it’s time to visit an orthodontist. The result of that system was not a good one. We now see a generation of patients with undetected bite and development issues. We are seeing patients with significant tooth wear, TMJ issues, and a lack bone support and loss of teeth due to untreated bites. These conditions should have been detected by the dentist and referred to an orthodontist for correction.

Maybe we just know more about these conditions than we did back when I was in dental school? Before we dive into the answer, let’s take a step back to really assess the core reason for all these conditions we’re seeing.

My Time Training As A Dentist

During training as a dentist, you run the gamut of everything there is to know about systemic health. We studied development, unhealthy bites, diagnosis and treatment planning in everything from gum disease, to tooth decay, and how to treat all of these conditions. As a practicing dentist, the reality is that you can only be truly proficient at a few things.

Most doctors know their limits and focus on the primary areas of gum disease, restoring cavities and failing restorations. It’s not a knock on the great work that general dentists do, it’s just a reality. This does not make them bad dentists especially if they refer patients to an orthodontic specialist when it is needed or if they are not sure if the condition warrants referral. Since many specialists provide a complimentary consultations for new patients the only downside to the patient is time.

The patient benefits from the orthodontist catching a condition when it is a small problem to correct.

Getting A Dentist Referral Today

Today, patients and parents have to insist on a dentist referral to an orthodontist for an evaluation even after the dentist has stated there is nothing wrong. Upon evaluating that same patient, significant bite issues exist that will result in long-term wear-and-tear, jaw issues, and gum support trauma if not treated properly.

Unfortunately, I see this far too often in my practice.

The bottom line is that it’s your or your child’s dental health. It’s 100% your decision whether you want to seek a consultation with an orthodontic specialist. You do NOT need a dentist referral to see an orthodontist. Ask friends, read reviews, become an informed patient or parent. You owe it to yourself and your child.


Call or email us today to experience the difference that we provide our patients at Team Orthodontics. Reach out to our Ahwatukee orthodontist office or our Gilbert orthodontist office and we’ll do our best to help you out with all your orthodontic needs.

Written by Dr. Ken Danyluk, Orthodontist at Team Orthodontics