What Is an Orthodontist?

What Makes an Orthodontist Different Than a Dentist

There is a common misperception that orthodontic treatment is the same no matter where you go. This may be true when purchasing groceries, medications, or tires, but it is not true of your orthodontic treatment. We have all heard people say “my dentist is also my orthodontist.” This is a common misunderstanding about the difference between a general dentist and an orthodontic specialist. The difference is education and experience.

  1. An orthodontist must complete dental school, earning the same 4-year doctorate degree in general dentistry as your family dentist. He or she must then go on to complete an additional 2-3 year orthodontic residency to become an orthodontic specialist. A general dentist that offers “orthodontics” is not an “orthodontist” because they have not completed this additional orthodontic residency.
  2. The extent of a general dentist’s orthodontic education is typically a night, weekend, or internet course taught by a brand name company such as Invisalign©, Clear Correct©, or 6 Month Smiles© (beware, if the estimated treatment time sounds too good to be true, it probably is). This kind of course typically does not offer the knowledge or experience required to thoroughly diagnose, plan, and then execute the highest quality orthodontic treatment.
  3. Only a specialist can become a member of the American Association of Orthodontists (the only association for the orthodontic specialty in the United States) as well as be eligible to complete the rigorous voluntary process of board certification by the American Board of Orthodontics. Other “orthodontic associations” out there are not the same and membership to one of these does not make one a specialist.

Dr. Helm’s specialized training and experience allows him to recommend the treatment options that will achieve the best possible results for you.

Check out this video. It will make you smile!