Can my family dentist straighten my teeth? Yes – but you may not want him to do so. A dentist who is not an orthodontist can offer braces, just so long as the dentist is able to straighten and align teeth as well as the average orthodontist. However, orthodontics is a complex and continually evolving field. Orthodontists receive several years of specialized training and attend continuing education classes to stay on top of the latest technological advancements. Straightening and aligning teeth is both a science and an art – in order for a general dentist to measure up, he or she would need to dedicate significant time to developing a high level of orthodontics skill.
So, what exactly is the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist? Consider this: if you need a physical, you would make an appointment with your doctor. If you needed knee surgery, however, you would make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. The same thing goes for orthodontists. Dentists provide annual cleanings and some advanced care like teeth whitening or periodontics. If you need braces, then you definitely will want to receive treatment from an orthodontist who has significant experience in this field.
A dentist has general knowledge about oral care. An orthodontist is a dentist with specialty training in orthodontics procedures. To become an orthodontist, an individual must first complete dental school. After dental school, an additional two to three years of accredited study are necessary. While some dentists may advertise a specialty in orthodontics, this is not the same as being a trained orthodontist. These dentists may have attended weekend orthodontics course, but they are not required to pass comprehensive exams or complete residential training programs.
Some dentists who offer orthodontics treatments may advertise that these treatments will cost less than care from an orthodontist. That’s simply not true. The cost of care is based directly on the complexity of treatment, regardless of whether the provider is an orthodontist or dentist. Keep in mind, however, that orthodontists are experts in their rapidly developing field. Consequently, they may be able to provide less invasive and more effective procedures thanks to technology advancements.
While some dentists may be able to perform highly skilled orthodontics work, remember that dentists have not received the same advanced training as orthodontists. If your family dentist offers to help straighten your teeth, it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion from a trusted orthodontist. This way you can compare treatment approaches and determine which one is right for you.