Should I See An Orthodontist Or A Dentist That Can Also Do Braces?

dentist that do braces
RobinHiggins / Pixabay

What’s the difference anyways? Can’t I just see a dentist that can do braces and save a little money? Well, you could, and they might do a great job. Still, it’s a little like going to a general doctor when you could benefit instead from a specialist. In this article we’re going to explain a little about the differences between an orthodontist and a dentist.

Wait, do dentists do braces?

Can a general dentist do braces? Certainly, some dentists do braces. That said, do they do it as often as an orthodontist does. For that the answer would be a resounding ‘no’. To understand the why of it, you will want to know a little bit more about how an orthodontist works in relation to general dentistry.

Fine. What is an orthodontist in the world of dentistry?

Orthodontists are dental specialists. Taking an additional 3 years of school in addition to their general dental training, orthodontists have studied the specifics of correcting irregularities in bite patterns and the straightening of your teeth. What that means for you is that when you choose an orthodontist for getting your braces that you are getting a specialist to do the task. This is not to say that your general practice dentist cannot give you a good set of braces, simply that they have not specialized in bite correction to the same degree that an orthodontist has. In some cases, both an orthodontist and your current dentist can install braces, but this depends on your current doctor and the training that they have received.

Orthodontists vs. Dentists

orthodontist vs dentist
RyanMcGuire / Pixabay

While a dentist and orthodontist have their general dental training in common, there are going to be a number of differences in their day to day practices. Here is a quick reference comparison to help you to get a better idea:

Orthodontist

  • Chiefly diagnose things such as proper bite ratios, jaw alignment, and facial growth and development.
  • Have an extra 3 years at their university in order to better study such topics as facial growth and development.

Dentist

  • General practitioners, dentists chiefly deal with the teeth and gums as well as the diseases that can affect them.
  • Unlike orthodontists, dentists have not performed the extra 3 years of study which includes the proper installation of braces. While some may have received additional training specifically for this, most are going to refer you to an orthodontist.

A brief history of Orthodontics

Way back in 1728 a dentist by the name of Pierre Fauchard published a book entailing numerous methods for the straightening of teeth. It was entitled, ‘The Surgeon Dentist’. While many credit him as being the ‘Father of Orthodontics’, others credit a man named Norman Kingsley, who published his own book on the subject in 1879, entitled ‘ A Treatise on Oral Deformities as a Branch of Mechanical Surgery’. His book introduced the idea of extra-oral force for manipulating the growth patterns of teeth. Around 1900, a man named Edward Angle declared Orthodontics to be a specialty and he wasn’t fooling around. Founding the American School of Orthodontists, Dr. Angle began the system of classifying malocclusions. Angle believed that positioning the teeth at the proper angles could prevent the need for extractions as well as improve the facial profile of his patients. Technology would take it’s leaps and jumps and before you know it we have orthodontics as it is today.

“The first examples of braces found in history were made for the dead.”

dentist and orthodontist
OpenClipart-Vectors / Pixabay

So an orthodontist invented braces?

Actually, not really. The first examples of braces found in history were made for the dead. Specifically, the Egyptian dead. That’s right. Placed in the mouths of mummies, these crude wire weavings went from tooth to tooth, wrapped or in some cases, holding aloft a drilled tooth, this technique made sure the Pharaohs kept smiling. The first attempt to use braces to benefit the living might be credited to the Romans, perhaps, as some burials found golden wire holding teeth together. The reason they get a little credit instead of the Egyptians is do to the writings of Aulus Cornelius Celsus, who attempted to straighten teeth through employing the force of his own hand. Some theorize that the wires were the natural progression for this but the possibility exists that they were simply copying Egyptian practices that they’d learned about. You’ll have to be the judge of that.

Who gets credit, then?

In 1819, a French-American by the name of Christophe-Francois Delabarre developed the first ‘modern’ braces. They involved a metal ‘crib’ assembly that individually treated the upper and lower teeth. Dentists of the time were still very much prone to remove teeth as well in order to promote good tooth alignment, so it was a very good that the design evolved over the years and that orthodontics came around as a specialty. For giggles, we highly recommend running a google search utilizing the keywords ‘Christophe-Francois Delabarre crib wire’ so that you can see them for yourself. They definitely do not look very comfortable.

The final verdict

Well, there you have it. a History of braces, along with a deeper understanding of the differences in employing a dentist or an orthodontist for your braces as well. So, who should you choose? If your general dentist is well-versed in the application of braces then it will probably be okay to use them, but we would highly recommend utilizing an orthodontist in this case. Remember, this is their specialty, and those 3 extra years of university training mean that they can not only install those braces but they are going to have some better general insight in to the best and most current treatments for making the best of your bite. That said, now you have the information to make an informed choice when it comes to the straightening of the teeth. Specialist or General practice, what will you decide? The best that we can recommend is this: Make your decision based on facts, not savings. Enjoy your new braces!

John D

Joh is the editor at Toothsy.com where we're passionate about you getting the best tips about oral health. There are a lot of questions asked about every detail of this topic and that's where we come in, to answer them as quickly and helpfully as possible for you.

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