You are considering straightening your teeth and are considering Invisalign clear aligners. The next common question in this scenario is whether you should see a dentist or an orthodontist for a consultation. You may be wondering can’t your dentist fit you with those? It’s not like putting metal braces on your teeth and adjusting them every week.
Many patients are comfortable with their dentist and hesitate to start over again with a specialist they don’t know. The answer to the question of seeing an orthodontist or dentist for Invisalign rests on the advanced training of orthodontists and the focus of their practice. It doesn’t mean your dentist’s care for your teeth is defective in any way; it simply means an orthodontist with specialized training can be added to your Invisalign team while you have your clear aligners.
This article will explore this issue by discussing the differences between Invisalign from a dentist and Invisalign from an orthodontist, the mechanics behind the movement of teeth or jaw, and why it is preferable to trust an orthodontist with this task. After all, the creation of your ideal smile will benefit you for a lifetime.
Orthodontist vs Dentist: What’s the Difference?
Let’s start with the facts: Every orthodontist is a dentist but not every dentist is an orthodontist. Dentists are general practitioners who focus on the ongoing care of your teeth, including the maintenance and repair of the teeth and gums. This means your dentist is responsible for keeping your teeth clean and healthy and repairing them if you develop cavities or gum issues. They provide education on keeping your teeth clean at home in between your regular dental exams and cleaning.
Dentists have completed dental school and are licensed to provide a wide range of dental services. Many have limited expertise in the movement of the teeth, jaw, and surrounding facial tissues, only taking a short training course to become a certified Invisalign provider. In many cases, they only offer basic clear aligner treatment.
An orthodontist is a medical professional who undergoes years of additional education and training after dental school. They become specialists in the diagnosis, correction, and prevention of misalignment of the teeth or jaw. Their focus goes beyond the daily care of your teeth and gums into the areas of tooth and jaw movement.
Their additional training prepares them to identify the best devices to properly align the jaw and any crooked teeth. Modern orthodontic technology is fast developing so they must consistently train in the strengths and weaknesses of every method available to meet the needs of their patients.
Orthodontia includes much more than Invisalign clear aligners. Orthodontists are experts in traditional metal braces, ceramic braces, lingual braces, palatal expanders, retainers, and more.
It is important to note here that dentists and orthodontists respect one another and want the best for their patients, no matter who provides that care.
The Work of Orthodontists and Invisalign
Today’s Invisalign technology is much more comfortable than ever before, beginning with 3D digital scans to create your treatment plan. These images take the place of the uncomfortable molds previously used to plan orthodontic treatment. The plastic aligners will be heated, pressured, trimmed, and then polished based on your particular teeth. The orthodontist works to fine-tune every shift in every tooth during the time you are wearing the aligners.
Once the aligners arrive, your orthodontist will go over the treatment plan with you. You will change the aligners according to this “road map”, generally every two weeks or so. Each aligner is worn for 20-22 hours each day and moves your teeth closer to the desired result. Depending on your needs and goals, treatment time with Invisalign aligners can be between 6 months and 24 months, or longer. The average time is 12 to 18 months.
Throughout this process, your orthodontist is the specialist in charge. This is one of the reasons they trained for additional years after dental school and it is why you should work with an orthodontist rather than a general practitioner dentist.
Patients undergoing Invisalign treatment visit their orthodontist every four to six weeks or so, just to check in and make sure everything is on track. However, they are also available to assist if any problems arise during your treatment and answer any questions you have.
Is An Orthodontist Really Necessary for Invisalign?
Yes! Here are the reasons why:
- They have the specialized experience for the best results. Orthodontists must complete a two or three-year accredited orthodontics residency program beyond the eight years dentists must complete, including more than 4,800 hours of orthodontic training. Some orthodontists then combine a PhD in oral and craniofacial sciences beyond that.
- They are knowledgeable about the latest orthodontic technology. Technological advancements have brought a wide range of new orthodontic treatments, like clear aligners, revolutionizing the way teeth are straightened and bites are corrected. Orthodontists are required to continually extend their training to offer the benefits of this technology as well as the equipment to you, their patient.
- You don’t have to give up your dentist to use an orthodontist for your Invisalign treatment. You will still see your dentist for your regular exams and cleanings. Consider both of them as part of your dental team, both working toward the same goal: Your beautiful, healthy smile at the end of your treatment!
With Invisalign From an Orthodontist, You Can Effectively Achieve Beautifully Straight Teeth!
The decisions about your Invisalign clear aligners are important ones. Your dentist and orthodontist both want to help you have beautiful, healthy teeth and a properly aligned jaw. Dentists focus more specifically on your daily oral health while orthodontists are the experts in straightening your teeth and correcting any alignment problems.
Dr. Ashby and the team here at Ashby Orthodontics are ready to assist you as you make these important decisions. With Invisalign clear aligners, we can help give you a smile that you are proud to show off!
Contact our office today to schedule an appointment for a consultation.