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 training

Orthodontists 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.

dr grubaugh with patient

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 treatment

If 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

Because orthodontists focus solely on orthodontic care and treatment, we devote a great deal of time and energy to perfecting our specialty! We perform teeth straightening procedures daily, keep up to date on the latest industry practice, purchase cutting-edge equipment, and Dr. Grubaugh takes advantage of as many continuing education courses as he can throughout the year. As an experienced orthodontist, he knows how to create the best individualized treatment method for each patient. General dentists may be more inclined to use a one-size-fits-all approach.

Should you choose a dentist or an orthodontist for braces?

question mark on paper

The choice of care provider is always up to you as the patient. Some general dentists do have a fair amount of orthodontic knowledge and experience. On the other hand, an orthodontist will be focused solely on orthodontic issues and is much more likely to have dealt with the specific kinds of dental issues that require orthodontic care. If you suddenly found yourself in need of open heart surgery, would your first choice of care provider be your primary care physician – or an experienced cardiologist? A cardiologist will naturally have a great deal more experience where heart-related issues are concerned. This approach applies to teeth as well. Having a general dentist perform specialized orthodontic work is a bit like a general physician performing open heart surgery. It can be done, but would you want to risk it?

When looking ahead at the lifespan of your smile, orthodontists are often invested in long-term care plans for our patients. Dentists may be more likely to emphasize short-term results and treatment plans. Orthodontists also focus on optimal treatment approaches and avoid complications whenever possible. With the training to notice the small things a dentist might overlook, orthodontists like Dr. Grubaugh are able to recommend plans that can save you time and money, as well as reduce the chances of any complications developing. Why risk your health and finances by seeking treatment from someone with less knowledge, experience, and specialized education when Grubaugh Orthodontics has everything you need for the best braces and Invisalign treatment possible?

Grubaugh Orthodontics – Making Smiles Happen in Lansing and DeWitt

Because our sole specialty is orthodontics, we guarantee we’ll give you the best quality, cost, and efficiency in treatment. If you’re interested in seeing this kind of specialized care in action, we offer complimentary consultations at our brand new DeWitt office, as well as our recently renovated Lansing location. After we perform an initial exam, Dr. Grubaugh will be able to outline a personalized treatment plan for you and explore with you how orthodontic treatment could benefit your smile. Even if you decide not to get braces — or wish to seek a second opinion first — we’re happy to answer any questions or address any concerns you might have.

If you’re in Lansing, DeWitt, or the surrounding areas, and are weighing up whether to choose a dentist or orthodontist for braces or Invisalign, we’d love for you to get in touch today to set up a complimentary consultation with Dr. Grubaugh. Our team is here to see you through your treatment from start to finish and beyond, because your smile is our business! Let’s get started today!