pediatric_dentist_referralA new study finds that general dentists provided more orthodontic care than pediatric dentists. The study’s authors set out to “compare general and pediatric dentists’ subjective judgments of orthodontic case complexity and to determine how their perceptions of case complexity influenced their decisions to refer the patient to an orthodontist.”

The study appears in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics.

The researchers had 20 pediatric dentists and 21 general dentists were asked to to review pretreatment orthodontic records of 20 patients with various malocclusions and a range of American Board of Orthodontics Discrepancy Index (DI) scores. The study participants were first asked to identify subjective complexity of the cases using a 100-point visual analog scale (VAS) and then whether they would refer the patient to an orthodontic specialist.

The results found that general dentists tended to provide more overall orthodontic treatment than their pediatric counterparts, with many general dentists providing limited orthodontic treatment and clear aligner therapy. However, both groups identified case complexity similarity. Still, the study found that pediatric dentists had higher referral rates to orthodontic specialists regardless of initial case complexity.