Orthodontic Blog with Topics from Invisalign and Damon to Metal Braces
This is a question I'm asked quite frequently, usually with a follow up question- what's the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist? The answer is quite simple, and has to do with training, experience, and value.
Orthodontists are highly trained specialists that have received additional education for 2-3 years full time after dental school in an accredited orthodontic residency program (as opposed to a few weekend courses).
The additional education an orthodontist receives concentrates on growth and development, and in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of all types of malocclusions and jaw growth discrepancies. This extra specialized training would be similar, say for example, to the extra years of training an obstetrician(OBGYN) would have in their medical residency after their general medical education. This woud render them to be much better prepared than your family physician to safely deliver your baby, to recognize potential problems before they happen, and to properly react to any unexpected complications.
The next thing that differentiates an orthodontist from a general dentist is experience. Because an orthodontist specializes in straightening teeth, correcting facial profiles, and creating beautiful smiles, they treat hundreds of new cases each year. A general dentist, on the other hand, may see only a hand-full of cases per year in between all the other things they are doing. Due to an orthodontists combination of specialized training and greater amount of experience, the orthodontist is more able to recognize the difference between a simple case and a complex one. Just as important, when a case becomes more challenging, as they often do, orthodontists are more prepared to properly handle unexpected problems as they arise.
And finally, there is the issue of affordability and value. Many patients and second opinions are surprised that the orthodontist fees are usually nearly the same as a general practitioners. The reason is efficiency. An orthodontist and their expertly trained staff are set up and equipped to devote all their efforts and attention towards orthodontic care. On the other hand, a general dentist and staff may have an occasional orthodontic appointment in between drilling and filling. As a result, fees are nearly the same, even though the specilist posseses significantly higher expertise and experience.
In closing, let me state that there are many well trained and highly capable general practitioners that can treat less complicated cases with great results. However, as I have outlined, there are many advantages to seeing an orthodontist when it comes to creating the beautiful smile you've always wanted!