Have you ever heard a person say that their dentist is also their orthodontist? A lot of people might make that claim without actually knowing if it is true. There really is a difference that most people don’t know about. It depends on the state that you live in, but some dentists have the right to advertise “orthodontics” at their practice even if they are not trained as an orthodontist. This difference in training is usually read between the lines with the uses of “orthodontics” verses “orthodontist.” The term “orthodontist” refers to a practicing dentist who has additional specialized training. A practicing orthodontist is the only kind of dentist that has the legal right to advertise as such.
Dentists and orthodontists both graduate from an accredited dental school program and must pass boards to gain their license to practice, but orthodontists then go through another 2 to 3 years of training in orthodontic residency at an accredited institution. This additional residency is what makes a big difference between the two, and this difference is something that all consumers should know about when choosing a dentist or orthodontist. Those extra years are spent on the specifics of how alignments, spaces, and the like affect a person’s mouth and overall health. Special skills and tactics are taught in these residency programs that other dentists have not been exposed to in an academic setting. Additionally, dentists are never tested on these practices.
If you are seeking teeth alignment specifically then you definitely should look for an accredited orthodontist, because they have the additional education and experience to handle the job professional and efficiently. Some dentists may advertise that they practice handles orthodontics because they have taken a few night classes with brand name aligner companies like Invisalign. These classes do teach dentists about the products and how to use them, but this does not account for the extra training required to assess and evaluate which patients are candidates for such services. A more thorough understanding of how teeth can change and grow is needed to fully understand how any kind of alignment will affect a person’s mouth. And products like Invisalign are just one of many. There are lots of different alignment options and a specific product shouldn’t be recommended for every person simply based on the dentist’s knowledge of such. Each patient should be given many alignment options and each one should be discussed and evaluated to ensure that the correct fit is made.
There are definite and specific differences between practicing dentists and orthodontists. Those differences do not mean that any dentist is not as qualified as an orthodontist to evaluate your oral health, so don’t cut all ties with your dentist right now. The differences are more geared to teeth alignment, and this kind of practice should be handled by a professional who knows how to assess a mouth for alignment as well as apply the alignment successfully. The correct application of any alignment treatment is definitely what you want if you’re seeking a brand new smile.