People should see their dentist before scheduling an orthodontic appointment. Dentists usually refer patients to a specific orthodontic provider. However, orthodontists do not require a referral to diagnose and treat a malocclusion. However, that doesn't mean your general dentist doesn't have any role to play in your care.
Before visiting a specialist, your dentist should ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy enough for orthodontic treatment. In addition, you should ask your dentist for advice on the best course for your needs. Many orthodontists say that a child should see an orthodontist before age 7 to detect any problems early. That doesn't mean a child is going to get braces right away.
However, the orthodontist will know what problems exist and will be able to choose the best time to start treatment. You'll sit in a dental chair and the orthodontic technician or assistant may take x-rays or computer images of your mouth and teeth. Regardless of whether or not you need braces, orthodontists will always advocate for good dental hygiene, as well as regular checkups with a dentist. When you make your first visit to the orthodontist, you'll visit an office that looks a lot like your dentist's office.
So why would you go to the orthodontist? Your dentist or one of your parents may recommend it to you because they see a problem with your teeth or jaws. This is where routine checkups with your dentist are necessary and, in some cases, some dental problems need to be fixed before orthodontic treatment. Your orthodontist will recommend that you continue to see your dentist to make sure you are keeping up with your overall dental health.