General Dentist vs. Board Certified Orthodontist
Few people realize the difference between an orthodontist (that limits their practice to orthodontics exclusively) and a general dentist (that provides among many other services, orthodontia). The difference is ……EDUCATION and TONS of experience and EFFICIENCY! Many general dentists (that ironically send their own children to be treated by orthodontists) provide orthodontic treatment on their patients with “6 months braces” or Invisalign after taking only a few short courses, without correcting the bites and looking for stability. Back in residency, we used to call them “HO-JO ortho-dentists”, the ones that attended weekend courses at Howard Johnson’s or “Google University”…. The problem is that most of the time, they do not have the education, experience and knowledge required to diagnose and treatment plan correctly. To call themselves an “orthodontist” would be deceptive to the consumer since they do not have the additional training needed to be a specialist. The State of Illinois require all licensed specialists to pass a specialty exam and hold a specialty license, in addition to their general dentistry license. Only an Orthodontic Specialist may use the term “Orthodontist” to describe himself professionally, and limit their practice to Orthodontics exclusively!
We all start by graduating dental school and becoming general dentists. A few select ones are investing additional effort and specialize, attending full time a 2-3 years residency in orthodontics, after a fierce, competitive selection and match process, just like the residencies in medicine which produce cardiologists, sugeons,etc. Among the specialists, only a few will go the extra mile and voluntarily become board certified, after passing a rigorous set of written and clinical examinations graded by their own respected peers. Maintaining the status of Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics requires a lot of effort and recertification every ten years.
The original objectives of the American Board Of Orthodontics stand to this day and were stated in the charter of incorporation: “to elevate the standards of the practice of orthodontia; to familiarize the public with its aims and ideals; to protect the public against irresponsible and unqualified practitioners.” Becoming board certified signifies the orthodontist’s pursuit of continued proficiency and excellence in orthodontics.
From the American Board of Orthodontics: “What is a Board Certified Orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dentist who has completed an American Dental Association accredited graduate program in the specialty of orthodontics. A dentist who graduates from a specialty program becomes an orthodontic specialist who is eligible to become board certified through the voluntary examination process of The American Board of Orthodontics (ABO). Involvement in the certification process is a demonstration of the orthodontist’s pursuit of continued proficiency and excellence.”
Our job is to diagnose our patients properly and offer the best treatment options, understanding and avoiding possible complications. It’s not just about the pretty straight teeth, but the overall health and stability, facial balance, harmony and function.
Would you have brain surgery done by your primary care physician?