Why Can’t My Dentist Just Straighten My Teeth?

dentists looking at x-ray

Alpharetta, Georgia – Call us crazy, but we love dentists. We understand the important work they do, and we know that our work would be undermined without them. They keep our patients’ mouths healthy enough for us to complete our work. But, there are some very real differences between dentists and orthodontists.

Your dentist may tell you that he has the latest technique available to help straighten your smile. But before you agree, we think you should understand the differences between dentists and orthodontists.

A dentist has completed dental school. There, the dentist learns how to care for the teeth and gums. He’ll learn how to handle tooth decay, gum disease, tartar and how to teach their patients important preventative care techniques.

All orthodontists are dentists. But only ten percent of dentists are orthodontists.

That’s because orthodontists go on to complete additional training after completing their basic dental training. An orthodontist completes a two to three year residency program after graduating from dental school. This gives us the knowledge we need to understand tooth and jaw alignment, and how to best treat issues that face our patients. We assess malocclusions, then work with our patients to create a custom treatment plan that will correct those issues and give them a properly functioning and more beautiful smile.

Orthodontists spend years studying how the teeth and jaw work together and have dedicated our lives to ensuring our patients have mouths that work properly, allowing them to eat, speak, and chew comfortably.

Both dentists and orthodontists serve an important purpose. We both work hard to ensure our patients’ oral health. But orthodontic treatment should be performed by a trained orthodontist. Your dentist may say he or she can offer you braces, but may lack the intricate knowledge needed to understand exactly how all of the pieces of the mouth fit together. Only an orthodontist has the skill and knowledge requires to correct a bad bite.

Here are some things to think about.

A dentist helps his patients keep his mouth clean and healthy and promotes good oral hygiene. He helps patients with and provides services related to tooth decay, root canals, gum disease, and various cosmetic dentistry issues, such as bridges, veneers and tooth whitening.

Everyone should see a dentist when their teeth begin to come in or by the age of one, and maintain twice yearly cleaning appointments.

An orthodontist focuses on the alignment of teeth and corrects malocclusions to provide a mouth that looks and functions well. Additionally, orthodontists may assist with temporomandibular disorders and other problems of the jaw.

Patients should visit an orthodontist by the age of seven. This helps an orthodontist monitor the growth of the mouth and allows us to begin treatment at the ideal time. Some treatment needs to be started before the jaw stops growing to be most effective. By seeing patients at age seven, we can solve their problems before they cause issues that will damage the rest of their mouths.

You may still be asking yourself “but my dentist says she can straighten my teeth and she’s been seeing me since I was a baby – why should I say no?” The answer is quite simple. While a dentist may in fact have the knowledge, he or she may not have the skill level or the appropriate instruments available and may instead offer cookie cutter services that treat each patient’s issues the same.

An orthodontist, however, knows that every mouth is different, and everyone’s teeth respond to treatment differently. That’s why he has an arsenal of instruments available to help patients get the best working smile possible. Orthodontists are skilled in numerous types of orthodontic care, from temporary anchorage devices to multiple types of braces. And after carefully inspecting your mouth, he will be able to determine which treatment is the best to get the proper results.

In a lot of cases, orthodontics is more about what you can’t see than what you can. An orthodontist has the training to understand how to correct dental and facial irregularities to give patients not just beauty, but function as well.

We love our dentist friends and respect the important work they do. By them helping you maintain a healthy smile, it allows us to do the work we need to do to help your smile function properly. But when it comes to straightening a smile, be sure you visit a trained orthodontist. While dentists are the experts at helping you keep your teeth healthy, we are the experts at moving teeth, diagnosing jaw issues and ensuring teeth stay in their proper locations once they’ve been moved.

In an ideal relationship, dentist and orthodontist work together to provide exceptional care to patients. For example, our general dentist friend in La Habra, California, Dr. James Park, has been friends with Newpark Orthodontics for years. Though he can’t physically refer patients over, he refers many of his patients to our blog and will even connect patients with Nima, so that they can get more information about straightening their teeth.  Our work really does go hand in hand. Often, dentists send patients to us who have lived with an improper smile for years. Not only is this unsightly, it can cause a host of other problems. We see patients who have problems eating, speaking and chewing. Not only that, their malocclusion has caused severe dental issues that have to be repaired by their dentist. Malocclusions can lead to tooth decay from not being able to properly brush, as well as abnormal wear on teeth, both of which can lead to tooth loss.

A beautiful smile is important to everyone, and dentists and orthodontist work together to ensure their patients have beautiful, healthy and properly functioning smiles. But when it comes to straightening your teeth, your smile should be in the hands of an experienced orthodontist in Alpharetta.

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