Now that you have decided to get a fabulous smile for life, why go to an orthodontist?
Both a general dentist and an orthodontist are trained with 4 years of dental school. An orthodontist continues their education after dental school with specialized training in an accredited orthodontic graduate program for 2-3 years of full time orthodontic education and training.
Dentists do get some orthodontic training in dental school, but are mostly trained in general dentistry–fillings, crowns, dentures, cleanings, etc. Trained orthodontists spend 2-3 years longer in a university than dentists to become specialized and accredited.
Patients need to ask if they are getting their work done by a certified specialist, an orthodontist. Dentists are able to practice orthodontics, but, unless they have attended and successfully completed a university program to specialize, they are not accredited. They are not “orthodontists”.
Orthodontists have been specifically trained in tooth movement-orthodontics, and the guidance of facial development-dentofacial orthopedics.
I practiced general dentistry in southern California for 5 years after dental school. I enjoyed it, but, was really more fascinated with orthodontics than anything else in general dentistry. There were many weekend and evening continuing education courses that I took to increase my knowledge of orthodontics. I tried a few orthodontic treatments in my dental practice. Eventually, I figured out that I wanted to know all I possibly could about orthodontics, so I made the choice to go back to school full-time and get a graduate degree in orthodontics.
Orthodontists are trained in one thing, to give you not only beautifully straight teeth, but aligned teeth and roots, healthy bites, and the best facial aesthetics possible. Because your smile is a beautiful reflection of you, you want it created by the most highly trained professional possible!
-Sharon Lee Mason, DDS, MS