So you’re at the dentist for your biannual teeth cleaning, and you notice some Invisalign posters around your dentist’s office. You’ve been thinking about getting your teeth straightened lately, so should you take the leap and start treatment with your dentist?
Here’s what you should know first: Both dentists and orthodontists provide services that help to create beautiful, healthy smiles – but one shouldn’t replace the other.
When it comes to your orthodontist versus your general dentist, each is a specialist in his or her own field. All orthodontists ARE dentists. But dentists are NOT orthodontists. Dentists and orthodontists undergo different training, receive a different education, and practice different skills.
Your orthodontist shouldn’t perform your regular dental cleanings and your dentist shouldn’t necessarily be your go-to doctor for orthodontic treatment.
Orthodontist Vs. Dentist: Education & Training
Many dentists offer orthodontic treatment, but dentists actually don’t receive the same training that orthodontists do. There are particular distinctions between an orthodontist’s training and a dentist’s training.
Both an orthodontist and a dentist complete dental school, but to become an orthodontist, one has to devote an additional 2 to 3 years to orthodontic training.
After receiving a certification, orthodontist schooling for the most experienced orthodontists continues. Our orthodontists (Dr. Nease, Dr. Thomas, Dr. Higginbotham, or Dr. Horvath) are each members of numerous ongoing education organizations! They’re dedicated to staying on the cutting-edge of orthodontic technologies and techniques to create the perfect smile and an exceptional experience for each patient.
To be a qualified dentist, a person has to complete 4 years of undergraduate school and 4 years of dental school. After these 8 years of education, dentists must take a written exam and a clinical licensing exam, which earns them the distinction of DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry).
To be a qualified orthodontist, a person has to complete the same 8 years of undergraduate school and dental school that dentists do, but they also have to complete an additional 2 to 3 year residency that equates to more than 4,800 hours of orthodontic training.
All orthodontists are dentists, but only about 6% of dentists are orthodontists.
Is an Orthodontist a Doctor?
Whenever you visit a dentist, you are under the care of a Doctor of Oral Health. Every dentist has earned either a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). These are very similar degrees.
An orthodontist must complete a DMD or DDS before moving on to specialize in orthodontics, so yes, your orthodontist is also a doctor!
Orthodontist Vs. Dentists: Treatments Performed
Dentists provide regular teeth cleanings, evaluation and treatment of cavities, gum disease, and similar oral hygiene problems, and tooth extraction. They also restore broken and misshapen teeth through bonding treatment, veneers and crowns.
Your dentist serves to assess your oral hygiene and help you to prevent oral diseases. They can also refer you to other specialists and physicians, if necessary.
Dentists often perform cosmetic treatment with braces or clear aligners, but most are not qualified as licensed orthodontists to treat complex issues, such as malocclusions (poor bite conditions) or TMJ disorders.
Orthodontists provide treatments to correct the position of the teeth and bite to improve the functionality and appearance of the teeth. Our focus is to shift your teeth and align your jaws to create a healthy smile.
Orthodontists can treat crooked teeth, crowded teeth, gapped teeth, malocclusions (open bite, overbite, underbite, cross bite), TMJ disorders, and more.
Our orthodontists help you make the best decision for you or your child’s smile.
Diagnosing the Root of the Problem
Although a dentist may have some orthodontic experience, an orthodontist has special expertise in the positions of the teeth and the bite, as well as facial aesthetics.
Orthodontists have special training in understanding how your smile can change your facial profile. They can identify and treat the root of the bite or tooth misalignment, while dentists are mainly focused on the appearance of the teeth. Successful treatment requires an approach that includes both aesthetics and functionality.
The Bottom Line
Orthodontists create personalized treatment plans to improve the bite and smile in children, teens, and adults. Dentists perform regular teeth cleanings and help patients to maintain their oral health.
Both orthodontists and dentists are fundamental to a healthy smile! Dentists cannot provide orthodontic treatment with the level of expertise that orthodontists can, but regular dental cleanings with a dentist are still essential throughout an orthodontic treatment period.
If you or a family member is in need of an orthodontist near you, we would love to meet you! We are an orthodontist in the Upstate of South Carolina, and we are proud to serve our communities with quality, friendly orthodontic care.
Still have questions about visiting your orthodontist vs. dentist?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions! We’re happy to discuss any of our treatments or technologies with you.
Our team is here to provide you with the information you need to make the best decision for you or your child’s smile.