The public should be better informed regarding the difference between an orthodontic specialist and those practicing orthodontics without specialty training.
Over the years I have had too many people come to my office unhappy with the orthodontic care they received outside of a specialist’s office. When these patients are educated about the difference, they feel let down by the dental community.
These are the comments that I often hear…
“I thought my dentist was an orthodontist…”
No... Actually, a dental student receives little or no orthodontic training in dental school. Weekend and online courses in orthodontics are a far cry from the education required to learn the art and science of orthodontic therapy and to move teeth correctly and safely. An orthodontist is a dentist that has completed a highly competitive residency taking an additional two to three years after dental school to properly train. This is the only path to “Orthodontist” that is recognized by the American Dental Association.
“Maybe they were just trying to save me money?”
No... The truth is an orthodontic specialist is generally not more expensive. And when a decreased time of treatment and fewer complications are taken into consideration, the efficiency of a specialist is in reality a better deal.
“My doctor does dentistry AND orthodontics! I thought they were the experts!”
The American Dental Association limits the practice of an orthodontist to the field of orthodontics. Despite being some of the very best dental students, orthodontists are not permitted to practice dentistry along with their specialty.
Who can focus more on your orthodontic care?
A dentist’s predominant role as a dental professional is to maintain your oral health with the following; cleaning teeth, removing decay, placing fillings, and replacing missing teeth with crowns, bridges and dentures. Tooth bleaching, cosmetics and veneers, simple root canals, minor surgeries and extractions, oral diagnosis, preventive care and more are all part of a dentists responsibility.
An orthodontic specialist focuses on only one thing, everyday... the alignment of teeth and jaws. This exclusive work allows a specialist to accumulate vast knowledge and experience and to become a master at their trade.
Are they proud of their orthodontic work?
Because a finished case from a general dental office is reviewed only by that dentist, the quality of work is known only to them. There is no peer review by the dentist unless the patient visits a different dental office. The results obtained by a specialist are sent back to the dentists in the community. This accountability to peers and the successful completion of simple and complex cases build the reputation for a respectable and proud practitioner.