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Citation Information : Australasian Orthodontic Journal. Volume 34, Issue 2, Pages 232-238, DOI: https://doi.org/10.21307/aoj-2020-075
License : (CC-BY-4.0)
Published Online: 20-July-2021
Background: In Australia, orthodontic treatment may be performed by either a general dental practitioner (GDP) or a specialist orthodontist. However, the titles ‘specialist’ and ‘orthodontist’ are restricted to dentists who have undertaken an additional three years of full-time training in an accredited institution. Considering the increase in popularity of GDP orthodontic courses, an assessment was worthwhile of the public’s understanding of the difference between a specialist orthodontist and a GDP who provides orthodontic treatment.
Methods: Two thousand and six Australian adults registered with a survey organisation and completed an online questionnaire. Participants were chosen to reflect age and state demographic data provided by the 2016 Australian Census. The survey questions examined the respondents’ understanding regarding the difference between a GDP and a specialist orthodontist related to training and qualifications. Furthermore, factors influencing respondents’ preferences for choosing an orthodontic practitioner as well as demographic data were collected.
Results: Sixty-six percent of respondents felt that a dentist who provided orthodontic treatment must also be a specialist orthodontist whilst 27% were unsure. Seventy-four percent of respondents felt that a specialist orthodontist was the most qualified person to provide orthodontic treatment. The most popular factor in deciding which type of practitioner to see for orthodontic treatment was whether they were a specialist, followed closely by cost. A GDP was more likely to be chosen as an orthodontic practitioner by respondents who were male, less educated, had a lower income or had seen a GDP for orthodontic treatment in the past.
Conclusion: Although the respondents generally appeared to appreciate the value of seeing a specialist for orthodontic treatment, a significant proportion did not appear to understand the difference between a specialist orthodontist and a GDP. The present findings support further education of the public.
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