What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a specialist branch of dentistry that focuses on correcting the alignment of a patient’s teeth and jaws. 

An orthodontist is a fully trained dentist who has had further years of training to specialise in the field of orthodontics. An orthodontist just focuses on orthodontic work, so they’re professionals in knowing how best to straighten and move your teeth.They can also advise you on the best orthodontic treatment for you and your smile. 

What is orthodontics?

What training does an orthodontist have?

Orthodontics is specialist, skilled work and to become a qualified orthodontist in the UK takes years of training and clinical experience. 

Orthodontists start by studying five years at dental school to qualify as a dentist. They then have three to four years of further training posts and exams to pass the postgraduate Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons. After that, they have to be accepted on a three-year full-time specialist orthodontic training programme to learn the skills to manage tooth movement (orthodontics) and guide facial development (dentofacial orthopedics), studying the science behind it. 

This advanced education and in-depth experience means orthodontists are uniquely qualified in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of orthodontic problems. 

Orthodontists also have extensive knowledge of using appliances such as braces, clear aligner trays and retainers, so they can recommend the best kind of appliance to meet every individual patient’s treatment needs – creating beautiful and healthy smiles for children, teens and adults. 

Dentist or orthodontist?

Dentist or orthodontist?

If you needed to have your appendix removed or your child needed their tonsils taken out, you wouldn't get your GP to do it. Instead, you'd turn to a specialist - a surgeon or an ENT specialist who has years of training and experience in these procedures.

Orthodontics is exactly the same. Although dentists and orthodontists are both highly trained oral healthcare specialists, they concentrate on different aspects of your dental health, so it's important to go to the right one, depending on your oral health needs.

For regular dental check-ups and teeth cleaning, and if you need fillings, teeth out or such like, your dentist is the specialist to go to. For teeth straightening, jaw alignment and orthodontic advice, your orthodontist has the specialist knowledge and experience you want. 

You could think of it like the difference between your family doctor and a medical specialist. You’d go to your family doctor for all routine check-ups and worries, but you’d want to see a specialist cardiologist if you had heart problems.

Together, your orthodontist and dentist can offer you a complete dental health service, and at Beam Orthodontics, we work closely with our referring dentists to ensure you have a coordinated treatment plan and approach.

Orthodontist Dentist
Qualifications & Memberships
Bachelor of Dental Surgery (5 years)
Master of Orthodontics (M.Orth) (3 years)
General Dental Council Registered Specialist in Orthodontics
Membership of professional orthodontic bodies, eg. British Orthodontic Society
Treatments & Services
General 6-month check up
Fillings & extractions
Cleaning & polishing
Advises on overall oral health of teeth and gums
Fitting of orthodontic appliances, such as braces & Invisalign aligners Some general dentists may fit braces and Invisalign but they are not specialists in orthodontics
Experience & training
Is specifically trained in the movement of teeth and bite issues
Recommends and treats patients after assessing overall facial profile
Uses the latest in orthodontic technology for the benefit of patients
Attends regular training on developments in the orthodontic industry
Is a member of The Invisible Orthodontist (TIO) Network Not all orthodontists are members of TIO but those who are demonstrate further commitment to promoting invisible orthodontic treatment.

Source: The Invisible Orthodontist



Braces for

Braces for





Specialist Orthodontists

Ruaridh McKelvey

Rhu graduated in Dentistry at Glasgow in 1995, gained his Fellowship in Dental Surgery with the Royal College of Surgeons in 1998 and then spent three years in Specialist Orthodontic training in Bristol and Exeter, completing the orthodontic exam (M.Orth) in Edinburgh in 2002. Rhu has worked both in practice and as a locum consultant. He has been based in Dundee since 2005 where he launched Beam Ortho with his wife, Jane.

Rhu appears in the Top 5 Scottish dental professionals, in Dentistry Scotland’s Leading 20 list. He was the highest rank Specialist Orthodontist too.

GDC reg no 70532

Meet the team

  • Ruaridh McKelvey Principal Specialist
  • Ruth Fowler Specialist
  • Elinor Chalmers Specialist
  • Jane Adams Partner/
    Business & Private
    Client Consultant
  • Ariane Diplexcito Orthodontic

Before & After

  • Before
  • After
John - 34Invisalign


Invisalign - 12 months

I wanted to be able to smile at my wedding so I went for a free consultation with Beam. My smile has been transformed in one year thansks to Rua and his team.

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