When Do Dentists Refer to Orthodontists?

While most dentists have been trained in basic orthodontics, practicing orthodontists spend several years learning about their concentration. There are several reasons why a person may need braces, and it is at this time your dentist may refer you to an orthodontists.

Here are a couple mandibular maladies that may cause your dentist to refer you to an orthodontist.

Class II Bite

patient with braces on week 4A Class II bite is the most common condition found in a person needing braces. This occurs when the upper jaw is overgrown, the lower jaw is undergrown or a combination of both exists. This is most effectively treated during adolescence but can be treated in adults as well.

Class III Bite (Underbite)

A class III bite or underbite is characterized by the lower jaw extending out in front of the upper jaw. This can cause teeth to wear down and problems with speaking. Underbites are often caused by premature tooth wear and if it goes untreated, it may require surgery.


Overbites are the opposite of underbite, when the upper front teeth extend over the lower front teeth excessively. This can cause the lower front teeth to bite into the roof of the mouth risking tissue damage to gums.


Crossbite occurs when the upper and lower teeth are too wide or narrow relative to each other. This problem typically occurs when the upper teeth are sitting incorrectly inside of the lower teeth leading to tooth wear and misaligned jaw growth.

Spacing Problems

One of the more visually obvious reasons a dentist may refer your child to an orthodontist is if they recognize wide spacing between teeth. This is caused by proportionally small teeth and tooth/jaw discrepancies.


The opposite of spacing issues is crowding. This occurs when a child’s teeth don’t have enough room to erupt from the gum. Crowding is effectively corrected through a process known as expansion. This occurs when the teeth are slowly pulled apart to a more functional position.

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