Dentist vs. Orthodontist For Braces

Have you recently been told your child would benefit from treatment with braces? Or perhaps you’re considering braces for yourself? If so, you may be wondering if this is something your own dentist can do, or if you’ll need to see an orthodontist. After all, you’re already familiar with your dentist’s office, and you might be reluctant to go elsewhere for orthodontic treatment. Like many people, you may assume that dentists and orthodontists are more or less interchangeable. But as many similarities as there may be between the two, 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. Lee have to offer that general dentists don’t. To learn more about those important differences, and how to decide which option is best for orthodontic treatment like braces, keep reading below!

Education and training

Orthodontists and dentists follow a similar educational path up until they graduate from dental school. At this point, orthodontists embark on a different, more difficult path that involves two to three more years of schooling and full-time training that specializes in orthodontia. This includes a focus on braces, bite problems, and straightening teeth. Although some do, most general dentists will not have this kind of rigorous supplementary training.

To put it in simple terms, orthodontists are dentists who also have additional, specialized training in orthodontics. It’s only after a dentist has successfully completed this orthodontics residency program that they may refer to themselves as an orthodontist.

Are general dentists able to straighten teeth?

Yes, there are some general dentists who are able to provide orthodontic care to their patients, but there are stipulations. This is only permitted if the dentist has committed to taking continuing education seminars and acquiring experience in the subject. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect system, since these workshops and seminars lack the kind of rigorous training and testing needed to truly learn extensive and specific material. A surface understanding of orthodontics isn’t always enough to be able to provide the best possible treatment plan for patients.

Considering a dentist for orthodontic treatment

If your primary care dentist offers orthodontic care, it’s not unusual to consider using them for treatment. All dentists receive some basic orthodontic training in school, but before settling on moving forward with braces by your dentist, consider that an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Lee:

  • will be able to provide more treatment options, with a wide variety of braces and clear aligner therapies to choose from, depending on their particular case
  • will have experience treating multiple cases that are similar to your own
  • will be more efficient at treatments and visits, since orthodontics are their only focused area of care
  • will be able to deliver the best possible outcome on your treatment plan, especially if your case is complicated or severe

While general dentists practice a wider scope of treatment, orthodontists are able to focus solely on orthodontic care. Because this is our only specialty, we spend a great deal of time and energy perfecting it! We perform teeth straightening procedures daily, keep up to date on industry practice, purchase the latest equipment, and take advantage of as many continuing education courses as we can throughout the year. Dr. Lee is also well versed in creating the best individualized treatment method for each of our patients, rather than taking a more one-size-fits-all approach some general dentists may be inclined to use.

Should you choose a dentist or an orthodontist for braces?

question mark on paper

Let’s say you suddenly found yourself with a heart condition that required surgery to correct. Would your first choice of care provider be your primary care doctor? Or would you look for an experienced cardiologist? Though your doctor will have had some training in heart-related issues, a cardiologist will have had a great deal more education and experience. This line of thought 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?

The choice of care provider is always up to you as the patient, but while some general dentists will have a fair amount of orthodontic experience, orthodontists focus solely on orthodontic issues, and are much more likely to have dealt with the specific dental issues that require orthodontic care. Orthodontists like Dr. Lee also put a lot of emphasis on optimal, customized treatment approaches. 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. You can keep your health and your finances intact by seeking treatment from someone with the kind of knowledge, experience, and specialized education available at Oxnard Ortho and Santa Paula Ortho. We have everything you need for an optimal orthodontic experience!

The best braces experience by 805 Ortho

girl smiling with confetti

Oxnard Ortho and Santa Paula Ortho have one specialty – quality orthodontics. Our team has the experience and dedication needed to provide all of our patients with the best treatment options, cost, efficiency, and results. To see this kind of care in action, we offer complimentary consultations at our two conveniently located offices, and would love to schedule one for you! After this initial exam is completed, Dr. Lee will determine if orthodontic treatment could benefit your smile, and if so, outline a personalized treatment plan for you. Even if you decide not to get braces — or just want a second opinion — we’re happy to answer any questions or address any concerns you might have in order to make an informed decision. If you’re ready to see how treatment by a qualified orthodontist can transform your smile, get in touch with us today!