Well to answer this question let’s start by looking at the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist…
1. An orthodontist such as Dr. Kesa is a professional who has gone through dental school as well as going through three years of additional education and training
2. Orthodontists spend on average 6,000 hours of real life training, treating pretty much every type of smile and bite issue there is.
3. Dentists only go through one small course in orthodontics in dental school and don’t actually go through any practical experience as it is not required to graduate.
4. Those small 2 day training courses for dentists don’t actually give them the experience they need to give people orthodontic treatment.
These days it is getting harder and harder to tell the difference between a fully qualified orthodontist and a dentist who happens to offer orthodontic treatment. I have a ton of patients come to me, telling me that their previous orthodontist was just their dentist who offered to do orthodontic treatment on them!
A lot of people trust their dentists and when they offer to straighten out their teeth for them, they just assume that they are also orthodontists.
So what is an orthodontist and what makes him different to a dentist who offers orthodontic treatment? Does it matter from whom you get orthodontic treatment?
An orthodontist is basically a fully licensed dentist who went through and graduated from dental school and then went on to study orthodontics for a further three years to get the knowledge and experience required to correct every type of crooked smile and bad bite you can imagine!
Getting into a fully accredited university who offers an orthodontic program is extremely competitive. The vast majority of the students that get accepted into orthodontic programs are students who were top of their class at dental school.
Those that get into an orthodontic program spend on average 10 hours a day, 5 days a week for three years learning and practicing over and over again, things like how to diagnose, and treat every type of issue there may be using the best methods that are currently available.
In total this results in the individual going through about 6,000 hours of hard core intense training after dental school.
Personally when I was doing my own orthodontic residency I had to start and finish orthodontic treatment on over 100 patients who had all sorts of different problems…. thereby gaining valuable experience on how to treat every kind of problem.
Because I was part of a massive orthodontic residency program, I was literally getting to treat people with a huge variety of issues. The great thing about quality orthodontic programs is that you as a student will be mentored by professors who themselves have had years and years of experience.
Not only did I have to go through practical training for up to 8 hours a day, but on top of that I studied topics such as genetics, growth and development, stats, biomechanics and various other things to ensure that I was getting all the information that I would need to become a successful orthodontist.
To end the program off, I had to do a fully fledged research project to really help further the field of orthodontics.
Having gone to one of the best dental schools in the country before starting my orthodontic program, I know exactly how much training and education general dentists receive on the subject of orthodontics.
I have to tell you right now that dental school was really hard to get through. I had to take classes on topics such as anatomy, histology, physiology, microbiology and a whole lot more.
After that I had to take courses specific to the area of dentistry including things like diagnosis, creating a treatment plan, how to control infections and dental anaesthesia.
Everything that I learned in dental school gave me the training that was required to do things like clean people’s teeth, fill cavities, make dental crowns and bridges, install dentures, and perform root canal treatments.
It is only in the final year of dental school that students are briefly introduced to the various different specialities that are out there, including topics like periodontics, endodontics, pedodontics, prosthodontics, oral surgery, and orthodontics. Keep in mind that it was just a brief introduction to each speciality.
If you went to one of the top dental schools then you might get a little hands on training, but nothing special. I personally made a retainer as part of my orthodontics training in dental school.
Believe me, even though I graduated at the top of my class at dental school I had no knowledge and experience in diagnosing and treating orthodontic patients.
Once a dental student passes his board exams they have the licence to provide all sorts of dental treatments no matter what training or experience they may or may not have.
Graduating dental school gave me the confidence to be able to perform really simple procedures like cleaning teeth, filling cavities, creating crowns and bridges and performing simple root canals and tooth extractions.
Once a dentist has graduated they do have the option of taking small courses to further their education and expand on the list of services that they actually provide at their practice.
Some of these courses you will find being offered by various universities across the country but the vast majority of them are offered by for profit organizations who set them up at a 2 or 3 day weekend course at a local hotel.
Of course unlike a fully accredited university the only requirement to get into these courses is that you pay the enrolment fee.
If you were to do a speciality course at a university then you will have to go through thousands of hours of hands on training before you would be qualified to actually treat live patients, whereas with these weekend courses you’ll get no practical training at all!
So taking this into consideration do you think that a dentist who has taken a weekend course will be able to provide you with the same orthodontic treatment as an individual who has gone through three years of training at an accredited institution?
If your general doctor could legally give you heart surgery, would you trust him to do so or would you prefer to see a specialist heart surgeon? My guess is that you’d definitely want to see the specialist!
Well the reality is that your teeth, smile and bite are really no different. You really want to make sure that before you get any treatment that the individual who is about to do the work is a fully qualified and experienced orthodontist. Ask this question before any treatment begins and you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache!
You only get one set of teeth, make sure that you get that beautiful smile by someone who knows what they’re doing!
Here’s a cool 1 minute video giving you the precise reason why you should see an orthodontist over a dentist for your orthodontic treatment…