Dentist vs. Orthodontist for Braces

Dr. Mark Clauss December 27, 2017

If you’re considering braces, you may be wondering if this is something your dentist can do, or if you’ll need an orthodontist. Patients often question what the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist is, with many people wrongly assuming the two are interchangeable. While there are many similarities, there are also some significant differences that set them apart. When you’re looking into orthodontic treatment like braces, it’s important to to understand what orthodontists like Dr. Mark Clauss have to offer that general dentists don’t. To learn more about those differences, and how to decide which option is best for orthodontic treatment like braces, keep reading!

Education and training

stack of booksOrthodontists and dentists both begin their careers by graduating from dental school. From there, however, orthodontists must embark on the different, more difficult path of more years of schooling and training that specialize in straightening teeth. To put it simply, orthodontists are essentially dentists who also have specialized, additional training in orthodontics.

Once Only the top students in a dental school class will be allowed to continue their education toward a specialty in orthodontics, making acceptance into an orthodontic residency program extremely competitive! Once accepted, orthodontists will undergo an additional two to three years of full-time training concentrating on orthodontia. This includes a focus on braces, bite problems, and straightening teeth. Although there are some who do, most general dentists will not have this kind of rigorous supplementary training.

Only after a dentist has successfully completed this residency program may they refer to themselves as an orthodontist.

Are general dentists able to straighten teeth?

The short answer is that yes, they can. There are some general dentists who may be able to provide orthodontic care to their patients. However, this is only permitted if the dentist has committed to taking continuing education seminars and acquiring experience in the subject.

For example, general dentists are required to attend specific workshops before they’re allowed to offer a treatment like Invisalign® in their practice. This isn’t exactly a perfect system, though, since these workshops and seminars lack the kind of rigorous testing needed to truly learn such extensive and specific material in depth.

Where orthodontic treatment is concerned, a surface understanding isn’t always enough to be able to provide the best possible treatment for patients.

Considering a dentist for orthodontic treatment

If your primary care dentist offers orthodontic care, you may be considering using them for treatment. All dentists do receive basic orthodontic training in school. But before choosing to move forward with braces by your dentist, consider that an orthodontist:

  • can provide more treatment options, with a wide variety of braces or therapies to choose from
  • has experience treating multiple cases that share your unique concern and anatomical characteristics
  • is more efficient at treatments and visits, since it is their focused area of care
  • can deliver the best possible outcome on your treatment plan, especially if you have a more complicated or severe case

Unlike general dentists, orthodontists focus solely on orthodontic care and treatment. As this is our only specialty, we devote a great deal of time and energy to perfecting it! We perform teeth straightening procedures daily, make an effort to keep up to date on the latest industry practice, purchase the latest equipment, and Dr. Mark takes as many continuing education courses as he can throughout the year. As an experienced orthodontist, he is well versed in how to create the best individualized treatment method for each patient, more so than general dentists, who may be more inclined to use a one-size-fits-all approach.

Should you choose a dentist or an orthodontist for braces?

Woman at dental appointmentIf you suddenly found yourself with a heart condition, who would be your first choice of care provider –  your primary care doctor or an experienced cardiologist? Obviously, a cardiologist will have a great deal more experience where heart-related issues are concerned. This approach can apply to teeth as well. Having a general dentist perform specialized orthodontic work is a bit like a general physician performing open heart surgery. It can be done, but would you want to risk it?

That said, the choice of care provider is always up to you as the patient. Some general dentists will have a fair amount of orthodontic experience. It is worth remembering, though, that an orthodontist will be focused solely on orthodontic issues, and is much more likely to have dealt with the specific dental issues that require orthodontic care. Dentists may be more likely to develop short-term results and treatment plans, whereas orthodontists are invested in long-term care plans for our patients. Clauss Orthodontics will see you through your treatment from start to finish and beyond!

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

Clauss Orthodontics for your best braces experience

Our sole specialty is orthodontics, ensuring we have the experience and capability necessary to give you the best quality, cost, and efficiency in treatment. To see this kind of care in action, we invite you to schedule a complimentary consultation at one of our two conveniently located offices. After this exam, Dr. Mark will be able to outline a personalized treatment plan for you, and explore how orthodontic treatment can benefit your smile. Even if you decide not to get braces — or just want a second opinion — we’re here to answer any questions or address any concerns you might have in order to make an informed decision.

If you’re in Watertown, Woodbury, or the surrounding area, and want more information on how Clauss Orthodontics can benefit you, get in touch with us today to start your journey towards a transformed and discover your smile!