Dentist vs. Orthodontist for Braces
If you’re in the process of considering braces or Invisalign for you or your child, you may be wondering if this is something your general dentist is able to do, or if you’ll need to see an orthodontist. Many people are unsure of the differences between dentists and orthodontists, and may wrongly assume the two are interchangeable. Though there are many similarities, there are also quite a few differences that set them apart. Orthodontic treatment like braces is a big commitment and significant investment, so it’s important to understand what orthodontists like Dr. Grubaugh have to offer that general dentists don’t. Keep reading to learn more about these differences and how to decide which option is best for braces!
Education and trainingOrthodontists and dentists follow the same educational path up until graduating from dental school. From there, orthodontists embark on a different journey including extra years of schooling and specialized training in straightening teeth. Orthodontists are essentially dentists with additional specialized training in the field of orthodontics. Acceptance into an orthodontic residency program is very competitive, with only the top students continuing their education toward a specialty in orthodontics. Once accepted, these students will undergo an additional two to three years of full-time training that concentrates on orthodontia. This training includes a focus on bite problems, braces, and straightening teeth. Only after a dentist has successfully completed this residency program are they able to set up shop as a licensed orthodontist. Dr. Grubaugh graduated in the top of his class at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. He then attended a three year orthodontic residency program at The Ohio State University.
Are general dentists able to straighten teeth?The short answer is yes. There are exceptions to every rule, and some general dentists will take on the same kind of rigorous training orthodontists experience after completing dental school. After this, they may be able to provide orthodontic care to their patients. However, this is only permitted if the dentist has committed to taking continuing education seminars and acquiring extra experience in the subject. An example of this would be Invisalign’s requirement that general dentists attend specific workshops before they’re allowed to offer this treatment in their practice. While this does give dentists additional knowledge on a subject, it isn’t exactly a perfect system, since these workshops and seminars often lack the kind of in-depth testing needed to truly learn such extensive and specific material in depth. Where orthodontic treatment is concerned, an understanding of the subject on the surface isn’t always enough to be able to provide the best possible treatment for individual patients.
Considering a dentist for orthodontic treatmentIf you find that your primary care dentist offers orthodontic care, it’s natural to consider using them for treatment. All dentists do receive basic orthodontic training in school, and it’s already a familiar environment. But before choosing to move forward with braces or Invisalign by your dentist, consider that an orthodontist:
- is able to provide more treatment options, with a wide variety of braces or other therapies to choose from
- will have experience treating multiple cases similar to your own unique concerns and anatomical characteristics
- is more efficient at treatments and scheduled visits, since this is their focused area of care
- can deliver the best possible outcome on your treatment plan, especially if you have dental issues that are more complicated or severe