In orthodontics there is a clear difference between specialists who have done three years training then work in practice, compared with hospital consultants who have done another two years post-certificate of completion of specialty training (CCST) training.
Lots of contracts have been awarded to deliver specialist orthodontics in primary care in recent years. See the dentists with special interests page for more details about orthodontics in primary care.
The career pathway to the orthodontic specialty encourages exposure to clinical environments outside the realms of the average dental practice. Although the career pathway is long and there is the inevitable requirement to fulfil criteria for entry to the Membership of Orthodontics (MOrth) programme, there is a wealth of experience to be gained in the various disciplines of dentistry. This will serve you well throughout your career, regardless of your eventual career choice. In addition, it will provide you with a window into the world of these other specialties that may even lure you away from your chosen field or open up new possibilities.
Research shows that poor appearance of teeth (goofy smiles and crooked teeth, for example) is one of the top three causes of bullying at school. Adults also suffer insecurities that an imperfect smile can create: lack of confidence and poor self-esteem.
The impact that straight teeth have on people cannot be underestimated. So much of our confidence and self-esteem is linked to the way that we look, how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. It is a pleasure to see a patient’s eyes light up when they see themselves brace-free for the first time with their new smile. And the creation of this smile with minimal invasive treatment is aligned with our beliefs to maintain and save natural tooth tissue wherever possible.
There are challenges with NHS orthodontic treatment. Funding is more and more limited with restrictions on eligibility and we are not yet at a stage where parents see the cost of orthodontic treatment as a necessary expense for children – unlike in North America.
However, it's becoming increasingly more common for people to seek cosmetic dental treatment, including child and adult orthodontics. This gives you the chance to provide orthodontics in conjunction with restorative colleagues: such as for space redistribution with implants or for up-righting teeth in preparation for a bridge placement. Private orthodontics is one of the fastest growing fields in UK dentistry.
Orthodontics as a career provides excellent job satisfaction where you are treating people who come out of personal choice, not necessity, and truly appreciate and value your clinical time and efforts.