Recently, I came across a post online that caught my eye. A woman had taken advantage of a Groupon deal for Invisalign, but had to choose between one of four providers to have the procedure done. Three of the listed providers were dentists, and one was an orthodontist. She was curious about the difference, and unsure which would be the best choice for her. I’m certain she’s not the only one who isn’t clear on the ways dentists and orthodontists differ from each other!
Read along to learn about these differences, and how to decide which is best for orthodontic treatment, including Invisalign.
Similarities vs. Differences
Although there are many similarities between orthodontists and dentists, there are also a number of important differences that set them apart. For example, all orthodontists and dentists graduate from dental school, but from there, orthodontists take a different path. They attend additional schooling and training to specialize in straightening teeth. In the same way that medical doctors who want to specialize in a field such as cardiology or anesthesiology will go on to do so after medical school, orthodontists are essentially dentists who have specialized, additional training.
After completing dental school, only the top students in the class are allowed to continue their education toward a specialty in orthodontics. Acceptance into an orthodontic residency program is extremely competitive! Once accepted, orthodontists will undergo an additional two to three years of full-time training concentrating on orthodontia including braces, bite problems, and straightening teeth. Most regular dentists don’t have this kind of rigorous supplementary training.
A dentist can only refer to themselves as a true “orthodontist” when they’ve successfully completed this residency program.
Can a general dentist straighten teeth?
The short answer is: yes. General dentists may be able to provide orthodontic care to their patients. However, dentists may only provide orthodontic care to patients provided they take continuing education seminars and acquire experience in the subject. For example, general dentists are required to attend workshops before being allowed to offer Invisalign in their practice. However, this isn’t a perfect system, as these workshops and seminars lack the kind of rigorous testing and examinations needed to truly learn the material in depth. In the field of orthodontics, a superficial understanding often isn’t enough to correctly provide the best possible treatment for patients.
Considering a dentist for orthodontic treatment?
If you’re thinking about having your primary care dentist handle your Invisalign treatment, you should ask the following questions first:
- Are you confident that you can provide the same level of orthodontic care as that of a licensed orthodontist?
- Are you a board licensed orthodontist? If not, what reasons would you give me that you should provide my Invisalign and not an actual orthodontist?
- How much orthodontic training do you have compared to a licensed orthodontist?
- How many cases like this have you treated in your career?
- Have you ever had to refer a case to a licensed orthodontist because you were unable to finish it properly?
Unlike general dentists, as orthodontists, we focus solely on orthodontic care, our only specialty. We perform daily teeth straightening procedures, keep up to date on the latest industry practice and purchase the latest equipment, and continue to participate in orthodontic classes and workshops. As experienced orthodontists, we tend to know the best-individualized treatment method for each patient, unlike general dentists who may use a one-size-fits-all approach.
Should I choose a dentist or an orthodontist for Invisalign treatment?
Having a general dentist perform orthodontic work is a bit like a general physician performing plastic surgery. It can be done but would you want to risk it? Think about it: if you had a heart condition, would you be treated by a primary care doctor or a cardiologist? Obviously, a cardiologist would have a good deal more specialization where the heart is concerned. The same approach applies to teeth.
The choice is always up to you, and it’s true that some general dentists have a great deal of experience with the Invisalign treatment system. But be aware that experience with Invisalign is only one part of the process. Remember that as orthodontists, we focus solely on orthodontic issues, and will likely have more experience dealing with specific cases. Unlike many dentists who may develop short-term results and treatment plans only, orthodontists invest in long-term care plans for our patients beyond the length of standard care.
Orthodontists also better understand optimal treatment approaches and how to avoid complications. We’ll be better suited to recommend such plans, and to notice things a dentist might overlook, something that could save you time, money, and pain should any complications develop. Why risk your health and finances by seeking treatment from someone with less knowledge, experience, and specialized education?
Choosing Webb Family Orthodontics for your Invisalign needs
Here at Webb Family Orthodontics, we’ve been providing orthodontic care to patients in the Chattanooga area for years. Our sole specialty is orthodontics, giving us the experience and capability to help our patients by giving them the best quality, cost, and efficiency in treatment. You only have one set of teeth! Unfortunately, they aren’t like hair that can grow back after a bad cut. Rectifying problems as a result of bad orthodontic care isn’t easy and can actually be quite expensive. It makes much more sense to get the right treatment from the start by choosing the right provider, like Webb Family Orthodontics.
We’re Invisalign Certified Orthodontists, and have an experienced and dedicated staff ready to go above and beyond to make you feel like family. If you’re in the Chattanooga area and have been considering Invisalign for you or your child, get in touch with our Hixson or Soddy Daisy offices today to schedule a complimentary consultation. We’d love to work with you and your smile!