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.
- An orthodontist first completes 4 year of dental school to become a general dentist, then goes on to complete a 2-3 year orthodontic residency become an orthodontist (specialist at moving teeth and understanding the complex process of facial growth and development). A general dentist that offers “orthodontics” is not an “orthodontist” because they have not completed this additional orthodontic residency.
- 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.
- 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.
Check out this video. It will make you smile!