When Only an Orthodontist Will Do

CLICK HERE TO VIEW: When Dentists Pretend to be Orthodontists

If you regularly see a dentist for dental care, and take your children to the same dentist, why wouldn’t you use the same dentist to straighten your children’s teeth or you own?

Because your dentist may not have the training needed to straighten teeth correctly. Many dentists, in fact, will refer you to an orthodontist if he finds orthodontic problems with your teeth.

What’s the difference between the two? To be clear, an orthodontist is a dentist, trained in all the standard techniques and practices for maintaining dental health by earning his Doctor of Dental Surgery or DDS. But then he goes on for two or more years of additional education at an accredited orthodontic residency program to earn his Master of Science in Dentistry (MSD) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) in orthodontics.

For every 100 dental school graduates, only six go on to complete the formal education necessary to be called an orthodontist. Only orthodontists are qualified for membership in the American Association of Orthodontists. You may find some dentists who are members of similar sounding groups, such as one called the International Association of Orthodontics. But those organizations may accept dentists who only completed an extra weekend of orthodontic training.

The advanced education and training orthodontists receive qualify them to treat crooked teeth using various types of appliances including braces, retainers and clear aligner trays to move teeth or hold them in their new positions. With their extensive training and clinical experience, orthodontists have the skills and expertise to recommend the best appliance to meet an individual patient’s needs and goals.

Orthodontists further learn about the growth of jaws and teeth, and how to prevent bite abnormalities. Continuing education in this specialized field includes learning about the advances in the use of computers and digital technology, and employing cutting edge materials to straighten teeth and help jaws develop properly. Orthodontists know how to work with patients to make sure teeth stay in their new, proper positions.

Beware DIY Orthodontics

While we stress the need for an orthodontist rather than a generalist dentist to resolve issues that require teeth straightening and other orthodontic issues with your bite and jaw development, we work regularly with dentists who deal with general health care. It’s how the dental health care system works best.

But there is a growing and alarming trend on the Internet to offer in essence Do-It-Yourself teeth straightening. In the search to find affordable teeth straightening, unsuspecting people come across online videos and websites that encourage them to straighten their own teeth. The American Association of Orthodontists has issued a consumer alert urging people not to try moving and straightening teeth with rubber bands, dental floss or other objects available to order online.

First off, you need a thorough examination of your teeth and gums overall health before beginning any treatment or procedures. These DIY techniques could cause permanent teeth loss and expensive, lifelong dental problems. A rubber band that closes the gap between two teeth may cause them to come together in a crooked manner, affecting your bite. The rubber band itself can also slide into the gum’s soft tissue where it becomes difficult if not impossible to retrieve. This causes inflammation and the teeth to extrude as their roots are pulled together. Eventually, they can fall out.

Elastics can be helpful to reduce gaps, but only when done in a proper manner and controlled fashion. Without the expertise of an orthodontist, these online bargains to move teeth can cause you significant harm that can be very expensive to repair.