All orthodontists are dentists and we all graduate from the same dental schools.
But that’s where education and training stops for dentists.
Orthodontists continue to go to school for an additional two to three years in order to become credentialed specialists at diagnosing and providing the best treatment for conditions like:
These are not dental care issues. They are orthodontic issues.
For some things, a generalist or jack-of-all-trades will do the job.
But for more specific and complex things, common sense tells us to seek out the best specialist we can afford.
Take your taxes as a good example……
If all your income is in a single W-2 from one employer, getting your taxes prepared at the seasonal pop-up H&R Block is probably fine.
But if you have a W-2 to report and a 1099, and investment income from real estate and you own stocks and you raise iguanas as a money hobby…
…you’ll be looking for a good CPA without a second thought.
Why are we so quick to find a specialist for our finances, but less so to find the most qualified person for your oral care, or the oral care of a child?
Typically it’s misinformation, or not having enough information. Let’s clear that up right now with more key distinctions between a dentist and an orthodontist.
There are a few things to keep in mind when differentiating between an orthodontist vs a dentist.
First, generalists or jacks-of-all-trades tend to work with one-size-fits-all, off-the-rack, standardized solutions.
They may be limited to doing what the computer tells them. You’ll notice that the consultation feels scripted and that the advice doesn’t seem to come from their expertise or judgement.
Generalists also typically work with products from only one provider, without being able to select from a full range of options that would work best for you. Specialists, instead, tend to individually and carefully diagnose needs and provide personalized solutions.
Second, generalists, and their standardized solutions, tend to be cheaper than a specialist – but there’s a catch. By being the lowest bidder, they place economic pressure on themselves that could compromise the safety and accuracy of an operation.
In this case, it’s worth remembering that whatever type of treatment you choose for yourself or your child will have permanent and impactful consequences.
All of this means that, if you can, you want to choose a specialist (orthodontist) rather than a generalist (dentist) when getting braces for kids.
Here are the expected roles from each of these three positions:
You may ask, how do I know my doctor is an orthodontist?
Start by looking for proper certification. Only orthodontists can belong to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). You can go to the AAO website by clicking here, and select the option “Choose an Orthodontist” to find a specialist near you.
Alternatively, you can ask your doctor if he or she has completed a two- to three-year residency in orthodontics and check with your state dental board to follow up on his reply.
Dentists and orthodontists will be registered by their specific title in most state dental boards.
Do your homework; be a “dental detective” on the hunt for the correct credentials. Look for the words “specialist in orthodontics” on their website.
In urban and suburban areas, it will take minimal effort to find a specialist. In more remote, rural locations, your search might take you to another city or town. The travel will be worth it.
Don’t be afraid to ask your dentist if an orthodontist travels to your town every month to see patients. There’s a chance an orthodontist from a larger city comes to your town and works out of another dental office once or twice per month.
Looking around can save valuable driving time and money.
Important Note : there is no disrespect between orthodontists and dentists. As a matter of fact, many orthodontic patients are referred by their dentists.
Just as the family doctor refers his patients with possible or significant heart disease issues to a cardiologist, and if need be, the cardiologist refers to a surgeon, most dentists refer patients with orthodontic needs to orthodontists.
Orthodontists are required to take two to three extra years of university education beyond dental school and additional continuing clinical education every year. They must also invest in state-of-the-art technology for their offices (not found in dental offices)—all for a good reason.
Even though we orthodontists have the education and training to perform general dentist procedures, we don’t. We specialize.
Schedule a Free Orthodontic Consultation For Your Child
You can schedule a 100% free consultation for you or your child with Premier Orthodontics to find out if and when your child needs braces.
At your initial exam and consultation you’ll discover: