Although there are some general dentists that offer orthodontic treatment like braces and Invisalign, an orthodontist is your best choice when it comes to getting the smile you’ve always wanted.
What is the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist? Quite simple! Both a General Dentist and an Orthodontist have to graduate from dental school. In dental school, they both learn things like cleaning teeth, extracting teeth, removing cavities and placing fillings. Once a dentist graduates from dental school, they go on to practice general dentistry. In order to become an Orthodontist, a dentist has to then continue with his/her education to complete an additional 2-3 years of training (called a residency) in both clinical and academic study. During this time, they treat only orthodontic cases on actual patients under the supervision of orthodontic professors.
This gives them the opportunity to treat orthodontic cases from start to finish and are exposed to a variety of orthodontic problems. Upon completion of this extensive training, they become an Orthodontics Specialist. That is, an Orthodontist.
Orthodontics is generally not taught extensively in dental school. Thus, in order for a general dentist to provide orthodontic treatment they take continuing education courses while they practice general dentistry. These courses are taken until the dentist feels comfortable enough to begin treating orthodontic patients. On the other hand, an orthodontist has studied and trained exclusively on comprehensive orthodontic treatment for 2 to 3 years after dental school.
If considering treatment by a general dentist, it is important to ask them how long they have been treating orthodontic patients and the extent of training as some may have taken more extensive training prior to offering their services.