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Dentist Vs. Orthodontist

You may be wondering if your dentist can fit you with braces, or if you’re going to need an orthodontist. People often wrongly assume that there is no difference between a dentist and an orthodontist. There are some significant differences that set them apart, even though they share many similarities. When you’re looking into an orthodontic treatment like braces, it’s important to understand what the professionals at Swan Orthodontics have to offer that general dentist don’t. To decide which option is best for an orthodontic treatment like braces, and to learn more about the differences between dentists and orthodontists, we’ve drawn up this handy comparison!

Training and Education

Dentists and orthodontists both graduate from dental school and then begin their careers. Orthodontists embark from that point on a different, more difficult path of more training, and years of specialized schooling to learn to straighten teeth. All orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists get to become orthodontists.

Acceptance into an orthodontic residency program is extremely competitive as they only take the top students from dental school classes. Orthodontists will undergo an additional two to three years of full-time training concentrating on orthodontia once they are accepted into the program. This will feature coursework that includes a focus on braces, bite problems, and straightening teeth. Most general dentists do not have this kind of rigorous supplementary training, although there are a few who do. A dentist may only refer to themselves as an orthodontist after they have successfully completed this residency program.

Can a General Dentist Straighten Teeth?

Yes, but with many a caveat. If a dentist has committed to taking continuing education seminars and acquiring experience in the subject, then they may be able to provide orthodontic care for their patients. General dentists are required to attend specific workshops before they’re allowed to offer a treatment like Invisalign® in their practice. Since these workshops and seminars lack the kind of rigorous testing needed to truly learn such extensive and specific material in depth, one might want to exercise caution as this isn’t exactly a perfect system. A surface understanding isn’t going to be enough to provide the best possible treatment for patients when orthodontic treatment is concerned.

Stack of books

Thinking About Your Dentist for Treatment?

You may be considering using your primary care dentist for treatment if they offer orthodontic care. While it’s true all dentists do receive basic orthodontic training in school, it’s best to consider a few things about orthodontists that make them the better choice. Orthodontists can deliver the best possible outcome on your treatment plan, especially if you have a more complicated or severe case. They can provide a wide variety of braces or therapies to choose from with more treatment options. Orthodontists have experience treating multiple cases that share unique and anatomical characteristics. And of course, they are more efficient at treatments and visits, since it’s their focused area of care.

Orthodontists focus solely on orthodontic care and treatment, unlike general dentists. We devote a great deal of time and energy to perfecting it as this is our only specialty! We take as many continuing education courses as we can throughout the year, perform teeth straightening procedures daily, make an effort to keep up to date on the latest industry practice, and purchase the latest equipment. As experienced orthodontists, here at Swan Orthodontics we are all well versed in how to create the best-individualized treatment method for each patient, more so than general dentists, who may only have a general approach to treatment.

Choosing an Orthodontist or a Dentist

Who would be your first choice of care provider— your primary care doctor or an experienced cardiologist— if you suddenly found yourself with a heart condition?  Where heart-related issues are concerned, obviously a cardiologist will have a great deal more experience. This approach can apply to teeth as well. Having a general physician perform open heart surgery is kind of like having a general dentist perform specialized orthodontic work. Just because it can be done, doesn’t mean it should be done.

Of course, the ultimate choice of care provider is up to you as the patient. It is worth remembering that even though some general dentists have a fair amount of orthodontic experience, an orthodontist is focused solely on orthodontic issues, and is much more likely to have dealt with the specific dental issues that require your orthodontic care. Orthodontists are invested in long-term care plans for our patients, whereas dentists may be more likely to only be able to develop short-term results and treatment plans.  See your treatment through from start to finish with Swan Orthodontics!

Dr. Swan puts a lot of emphasis on optimal treatment approaches, and avoiding complications. Orthodontists are able to recommend plans that can save you time and money, as well as reduce the chances of any complications developing because they have the training to notice the small things a dentist might overlook. Swan Orthodontics has everything you need for an optimal orthodontic experience so there’s no need to risk your health and finances by seeking treatment from someone with less knowledge, experience, and specialized education.

doctor talking to woman patient at hospital

The Best Braces Experience

We have the experience and capability necessary to give you the best quality, cost, and efficiency in treatment because our sole specialty is orthodontics. We invite you to schedule a consultation at our office. After the exam, Dr. Swan will be able to explore how orthodontic treatment can benefit your smile, and begin to outline a personalized treatment plan just for you. We’re here to answer any questions or address any concerns you might have in order to make an informed decision— even if you decide not to get braces or just wanted a second opinion.

If you’re in the Grand Rapids area, and want more information on how Swan Orthodontics can benefit you, get in touch with us today to start your journey towards a transformed and brilliant smile today!