All orthodontists are dentists, but only a small number of dentists become orthodontists. Dentists typically will do a variety of procedures in their office, and occasionally that includes some orthodontics. Orthodontists are specialists, and typically limit their practice to Braces and Invisalign.
Simply put, an orthodontist is:
A specialist dealing in orthodontics, the branch of dentistry dealing with the prevention and correction of irregular teeth and jaw alignment, as by means of braces or Invisalign.
So, what’s the REAL difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?
After graduation, most dental students go directly into general dental practice where they provide the variety of dental services that they learned in dental school. A small number of dental students decide to hone in on a specialty, such as Orthodontics. The specialized knowledge required to understand the complex diagnosis and treatment of orthodontic patients requires an additional 2-3 years of residency training to become competent. After completing a residency in Orthodontics, a dentist becomes proficient in braces and Invisalign. At that point, they become an Orthodontist and their level of expertise in braces and Invisalign sets the Standard of Care for the profession.
Once all is said and done, an orthodontist goes through around 10 years of schooling. This commitment to the specialty means that orthodontists have a great passion for what they do!
Do I need to go to a different dentist during orthodontic treatment?
In short, yes! While technically speaking, an orthodontist is a dentist, his or her commitment to their specialty often means they rely heavily on treating patients for that specialty only. This means that an orthodontist will often request that a general dentist help their patients with cavities, tooth cleaning or other general dentistry tasks.
More often than not, your orthodontist can refer you to a dentist that he or she is confident in for general dentistry during your orthodontic treatment. A general dentist is also able to help with gum issues, oral hygiene and general health.
Proper teeth and jaw alignment is vital to your health, and dentists often refer patients to orthodontists for specialized care. Chances are, you were first referred to an orthodontist from sitting in your dentist’s chair!
My dentist offers teeth straightening options. Why do I need an orthodontist?
Some dentists have taken classes on orthodontics. Often these weekend classes are sponsored by companies such as Invisalign®, Fastbraces®, or Six Month Smiles® and are primarily focused on teaching dentists how to place orders for those specific products. While these options may be the right choice for certain simple problems, many patients still prefer an expert to evaluate their case before investing the time and money associated with braces or Invisalign. This is why many orthodontists such as Hudson Orthodontics offer free consultations - no referral required!
Finding an Orthodontist
Are you ready to start orthodontic treatment? Hudson Orthodontics is accepting new patients and will walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have. To learn more about our process, or to speak with our staff, contact us by calling 703.451.4666 or schedule a free consult.
To a Lifetime of Smiles,
Dr. Brad Hudson, DDS, MS