How is a Dentist Different from an Orthodontist?

dentist vs orthodontist

Bronx, NY – If you or your child need orthodontic treatment, you’re probably already wondering how you can fit appointments into an already packed schedule. And with more dentists offering some form of orthodontic treatment in their offices, wouldn’t it be more convenient to just see your regular dentist, instead of adding a new office into your routine?

Consider this, says Dr. Catherine Woo of Riverdale Family Orthodontics.

 “Dentists and orthodontists can both play an important role in helping patients maintain their oral health. However, orthodontists have the proper training and experience to align teeth and improve bites. Not only that, they will be adept in many different types of orthodontic treatments and can recommend the treatment type that will offer the best results for each individual patient.”

Every orthodontist is a dentist, but not every dentist is an orthodontist. This is an important distinction. Both start off in the same place – dental school. But once a dentist graduates from dental school, he or she can begin practicing. To become an orthodontist, however, one must spend 2-3 additional years of training.

Dr. Woo took her training even one step further, becoming a board-certified orthodontist. This is a designation earned by only approximately 25% of American orthodontists. Board certification signifies a commitment to the highest level of orthodontic treatment and care.

“Many people mistakenly believe that orthodontics is only about the cosmetics of straightening teeth,” says Dr. Woo. “While that is certainly a key aspect of it, it isn’t the only piece. A well-trained orthodontist must also have the skill and knowledge to create stable bites in which the jaws and teeth work together harmoniously, to see the overall picture for restorative work planned, and to understand how periodontal disease and treatment plays into orthodontic care. He or she will have treated hundreds or potentially thousands of patients with varying severities of malocclusion that involve extractions of teeth, orthognathic surgery and hybrid cases that involve implants or restorations.”

An orthodontist will be up to date on all the latest treatments and technologies that are available. A dentist who offers treatment may only offer basic treatment options or only one option. For instance, many dentists are now offering Invisalign treatment. While Invisalign is an excellent treatment option for many orthodontic patients, it isn’t the best option for everyone. A trained orthodontist will know when to recommend certain treatments, and when to explain why one treatment option may not be ideal. He or she will be experienced to offer traditional braces, clear aligners or lingual braces for the proper cases.

Orthodontists provide proper, individualized care for every patient and have the experience and training you can trust. So, call your local orthodontist for a conversation about how to improve your smile now! =)

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