Differences Between Orthodontists and Dentists

Orthodontics in Grand Rapids MI

It’s not uncommon for general dentists to offer orthodontic services to their patients. However, family dentists can’t provide the same level of expertise needed as our Grand Rapids orthodontists can for Invisalign® clear aligners, metal braces, ceramic braces, and more.

While both professions center around taking care of your teeth and gums, each plays a different role. Knowing when to contact an orthodontist can save your time, money, and smile.

Here are a few key differences between orthodontists and dentists so you can make the best decision for your smile.

Level of Education Achieved

Orthodontists and dentists both complete 4 years of dental school. However, orthodontists achieve an extra 2 to 3 years of specialized orthodontic training before they are allowed to offer orthodontic services.

Dental school programs alone don’t thoroughly cover how to straighten teeth or diagnose a misaligned jaw. This means that ultimately, your general dentist should refer you to an orthodontist if you need specialty care.

Experience in Straightening Teeth and Fixing Bites

Family dentists are qualified to treat tooth decay, gum disease, missing teeth and more. However, you should only trust a licensed orthodontist like ours to move your teeth into proper alignment using a personalized treatment plan tailored to you.

Orthodontists correct bites and straighten teeth for a living, which means you can count on their experience to choose the best form of orthodontic treatment for you. A general dentist, on the other hand, won’t have as much experience with straightening teeth specifically to create the results you want.

Dentists have experience treating:

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Chipped teeth
  • Cracked teeth
  • Knocked-out teeth
  • Missing teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Diseased tooth pulp or root canals

Orthodontists have experience treating:

  • Misaligned teeth
  • Crowded teeth
  • Spaces between teeth
  • Overbite
  • Underbite
  • Crossbite
  • Jaw growth

Range of Orthodontic Services Offered

Many dentists tend to only provide limited services to patients seeking orthodontic intervention. For a full range of orthodontic services, you’ll want to seek out and schedule an appointment with an orthodontist. If you want to explore all your options for straightening teeth, an orthodontist can give you all the information you need.

Should I Stay With My Dentist for Orthodontic Treatment?

While it can be tempting to stick with your dentist for orthodontic treatment, it’s better to ask for a referral to a trusted orthodontist. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon that our orthodontists have to fix mistakes made by general dentists. Teeth that are improperly moved can give you bite problems, cause jaw pain, or create other dental issues you didn’t have prior to orthodontics.

General dentists don’t have the education needed to offer the same services as orthodontists. However, this doesn’t stop some of them from offering metal braces or Invisalign. An orthodontist can deliver ideal results because they are trained to move teeth safely and effectively.

Get the Orthodontic Treatment Your Smile Needs

Our orthodontists in Grand Rapids, MI, have years of experience helping patients feel confident with beautiful healthy smiles. If you are interested in learning more about orthodontic treatments for teenagers, adults, or children, please call Armbrecht & Wierenga Orthodontics at (616) 455-4800 or contact us online.

This blog post has been updated.