Ever wonder about the quality of orthodontic treatment performed by orthodontists vs.
general dentists? Yes, general dentists (GP’s) have been offering orthodontic care with limited training, usually at lower costs. However, you’re about to find out that you may be paying a price when you skimp on orthodontic care, and that price is your health.
Want more proof? Researchers performed a blind comparative evaluation of the quality of orthodontic treatment provided by orthodontists and general dentists. The Angle Orthodontist, the official publication of the Edward H. Angle Society of Orthodontists, published a study that shows the consumer clear evidence of differences in quality between the two groups mentioned.
Read the entire report here: Orthodontists vs. General Dentists
- “Sixty cases of orthodontic treatment were evaluated—30 treated by specialists in orthodontics and 30 treated by general dentists with no specialization course.”
- “Orthodontists were selected randomly by lots, in a population of 1596 professionals, and recordings were performed based on the guideline established by the Objective Grading System proposed by the American Board of Orthodontics.”
The study came to the conclusion that orthodontic treatment performed by general dentists was inferior quality compared to trained orthodontists: “The results showed that 29 orthodontists (96.7%) presented cases considered satisfactory and would be approved on the qualification exam, whereas only 15 dentists (50%) had cases considered satisfactory. Moreover, treatment time was significantly shorter among the orthodontists (P 5 .022), and the posttreatment comparison revealed that orthodontists achieved better outcomes considering all the variables studied.” Patients who receive orthodontic treatment, such as Invisalign, can risk becoming a Invisalign transfer case, which is an unfortunate reality for New Yorkers trying to save money on treatment costs.
In the case of Invisalign treatments, they have become an increasingly common means of correcting misaligned teeth without the use of unattractive braces. Due to the popularity of the Invisalign technique, general dentists and orthodontists alike have been vying for the attention of patients interested in the treatment. Although practitioners from both groups may be considered “qualified “to practice Invisalign, there is a definite difference between seeking treatment from a general dentist and an orthodontist as the Angle Orthodontist study points out.
Invisalign is often used as a substitute for metal braces so as to avoid the unsightly appearance and uncomfortable metal. In other words, Invisalign requires a doctor who is well qualified to perform dental adjustments and not just cavity extraction and general exams. Because of this, orthodontists were initially the only ones permitted to use Invisalign technology. However, after dentists sued for the right to use the aligning treatment, Invisalign permitted both dentists and orthodontists to use the method after receiving ten education credits followed by the submission of ten cases. This was not well received by either group and was soon rejected. Now, all that is required for a general dentist to become an Invisalign provider is one eight hour course.
The course provided to dentists consists of a simple curriculum that covers the use of the 3D imaging software utilized to create the Invisalign aligners and how to manage and submit the patients’ records. It does not instruct dentists on proper Invisalign techniques. Additionally, one can become an Invisalign provider without having treated a single patient using the method.
While dentists are only required to attend dentistry school, orthodontists attend a full two to three years of orthodontic schooling following the standard dentistry program. Invisalign, due to its nature, requires both schooling and experience in not only straightening a patient’s front teeth but also in correcting overall bite as well as jaw and muscle function. These are skills that many dentists simply don’t have because they lack the essential training and patient experience.
While orthodontists are almost always the more experienced when it comes to Invisalign and other similar treatments, many patients still seek out general dentists to perform the technique. The primary reason for this is that general dentists are typically less expensive. While a person’s budget is no doubt an important factor to consider when choosing a provider, the results of the treatment should always be considered first and foremost. The goal of the Invisalign treatment is to provide a correction that will last a lifetime, so why choose a provider who is less qualified simply to save a few dollars?
The typical Invisalign treatment will last for over a year from start to finish meaning that you will spend many hours in the office of your doctor receiving evaluations and new aligners to continue to correct the problem. Orthodontists, unlike general dentists, specialize solely in the movement of teeth meaning that they will more fully understand not only how to perform the treatment successfully but also the limitations of the various techniques including Invisalign. Invisalign is not for everyone and the success of the method will depend largely on the patient as well as the severity of the problem. General dentists often lack the training to be able to know when the Invisalign treatment is appropriate.
Whether you choose to go to a dentist or orthodontist for Invisalign, keep in mind the importance of previous experience as well as education. Before starting any treatment with a provider, make sure that you are thoroughly aware of their previous cases. Even a skilled orthodontist can have very little Invisalign experience. The proper due diligence can save you serious heartache and countless dollars.