I recently undertook a day of work experience at an Orthodontic practice in Swansea. Orthodontics is a specialty field of dentistry. In order to become an orthodontist, you must undertake an additional 3 years of training after gaining a degree in dental surgery. At the end of this training scheme, you must be successful in the ‘membership in Orthodontics examination.’
During my day at the orthodontist I was able to witness a number of highly technical procedures. However what really stood out to me was the level of care and communication that must be shown by the orthodontist toward the patient who is making a decision which is going to alter their appearance for generally a period of 18 months. As a contrast to dentistry, where patients ages can range from around 4 to 90 on a general day, the Orthodontist rarely sees a patient over the age of 14 meaning they will generally have to communicate with both the child and the parent. I recently read up on the 9 principles of dentistry on the GDC website and was particularly interested in how conveyed these principles in a way that was tailor-made to suit the demands of each individual patient. The obtainment of valid consent was a crucial factor as the orthodontist must be sure that the child themselves generally wants to have a procedure put in place and that it is not perhaps the parents pushing them to do so. We live in a different generation where our appearance is generally thought of as highly important to us and as a result these procedures such as braces are more than often welcomed if not requested. I was also intrigued to see how the orthodontist put together a care plan for the patient based on the level of their needs meaning the orthodontists people and organisational planning skills must really be on par with their clinical ability.
An observation I made throughout the day is the difference in atmosphere at an orthodontic practice compared to a dental practice. I certainly felt as though it was perhaps less emotionally demanding due to the fact 90% of the patients are children and no patients came in in a state of pain, they simply wanted to alter the cosmetics of their teeth for growth purposes. However, the dentist will see patients who are in such pain that they immediately need an injection and a tooth extracted. They are certainly two very contrasting aspects of a similar field.
I will definitely consider pursuing a career in orthodontist in the future however at the moment I am driven on my one goal of getting in to dentistry at my chosen University. i am highly grateful to the practice who enabled me to get a taste for Orthodontics and to the Orthodontist who has also helped me hugely in giving me contact details of a tutor for my University interviews.
I am currently in the middle of preparing my personal statement in which I hope to include the web address to the blog. It is odd to think that by October 15th my application will have been sent off and the wait to hear about an interview will begin.