Orthodontist or dentist?

What is the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?
Posted on 04/17/2019
orthodontist or dentist

What is the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?

Every time I tell someone that I am an orthodontist I usually get one of two reactions. The first reaction is something like, “Oh, that’s cool! I had braces when I was young, and I really liked my orthodontist.” Some times those people will follow that up by reluctantly confessing that they don’t always wear their retainer like they should anymore and some of their teeth have started to shift and their overbite has relapsed. I always enjoy those reactions because that means they are already familiar with the kind of work that we do. They know that the orthodontist is where you go to get your braces or Invisalign to have your teeth aligned and your bite corrected. The second type of reaction I get is from those people who have never had braces or Invisalign and have no experience with retainers of any kind either. They usually ask me questions like, “Can you take out teeth for me?” or “Do you all do dentures there?” or maybe “I was supposed to have a filling done on a tooth a while back. Can you all do that?” To be honest I kind of enjoy those reactions too because it gives me an opportunity to educate people about my passion, which is helping people by giving them a confident smile that is easy to maintain and can last them a lifetime.

For those of you who fit in that second category, an orthodontist is a dental specialist who knows what to do to get the teeth and their supporting bones to the right place. Orthodontists start out as general dentists by attending 4 years of dental school training.  In order to specialize in orthodontics and be an orthodontist, a dentist must go above and beyond dental school by attending an extra 3 years of residency training to become an expert in using braces, Invisalign, and other appliances to create a healthy, beautiful smile that is also functional and stable. That is what Dr. Hartsock and I did before deciding to start practicing here in east Kentucky.

A big advantage of what we do as orthodontists is the improvement of the cosmetic and esthetic aspects of your smile. We know the profound impact that a confident smile can have on someone, and we love providing that to our patients. Another incredible advantage to having orthodontic treatment is that you can achieve a stable, functional occlusion (a.k.a. “bite”) that will allow you greater success in maintaining all of your teeth in a healthy environment for years to come. A stable, symmetric bite will allow your teeth to last longer and wear down much slower. Aligned teeth absent spaces and crowding are also much easier to clean. There are less areas for common oral bacteria and food to get trapped, which means a healthier smile. How do we do that? In our office we prefer to use traditional metal braces or the advanced new Invisalign clear aligners, which offer some distinct advantages over braces.  "How does Invisalign work?" and "How is Invisalign different than braces?" and "How much does Invisalign cost?" are common questions to ask your orthodontist. Dr. Hartsock and I are both board-certified orthodontists specializing in braces and Invisalign for all ages. We are both certified Invisalign providers and our office is the leading Invisalign provider in all of east Kentucky!

Now that you know what an orthodontist does, feel free to reach out to us for any of our services.  As always, no referral is necessary! CALL or CLICK to schedule your FREE consultation today to find out which treatment is best for you.

-Dr. Jacob L. Sword, DMD, MS