Should I See an Orthodontist or Dentist for Invisalign?
Patients can often wonder should they see an orthodontist or regular dentist if they want to get Invisalign to discreetly straighten their smile. To answer this question, Dr. Ramtin (one of our orthodontic directors) wrote this blog to explain in more detail.
To begin to answer this question, it is important to first distinguish between the two. A dentist is a doctor who deals with the general aspects of your teeth. An orthodontist is a doctor who after having become a dentist, has spent a further three years at university to specialise and become an expert on how to straighten teeth correctly using different types of braces. More importantly, they get educated on and are trained in how to do this in a both a safe and predictable manner. In fact the very title orthodontist is rooted in this as it comes from the Greek words orthos for ‘straight, correct’ and odon for ‘tooth’.
During this intense three year period, they treat hundreds of cases with braces. Each procedure they work on is scrutinised and examined in fine detail by the best and brightest minds in this very specific field ensuring that they come out the other end as true experts at what they do. Let’s now look at Invisalign and where it enters the story . . .
Put simply, Invisalign is a type of brace. Although a modern appliance, it is based on traditional thinking and methods. To be able to use Invisalign, general dentists and orthodontists take a two day, in person certification course which allows them to use the system (or more frequently nowadays due to the COVID-19 outbreak, this is completed virtually).
Now for an orthodontist, this course is purely done to get access to the Invisalign system. But for many dentists, the two day course is their only experience with tooth movement and braces before they start using it on patients. The analogy is that when an orthodontist uses Invisalign, it’s similar to the idea of giving a carpenter a slightly different hammer and asking them to build the same table. They have all the experience and knowledge to be able to get the same exact result, even if the tool is slightly different to what they are used to.
For a dentist however this is not the case – because often they do not have the detailed theoretical knowledge to be able to plan these cases and execute them to an equally high standard safely. Therefore they end up having to rely on technicians (not dentists) who work for Invisalign, to plan the majority of their cases (whereas orthodontists will plan their own cases). This creates a big difference in the quality of results that is achieved.
So to answer the question ‘Should I See an Orthodontist or Dentist for Invisalign?’ consider the following:
1. Choose an orthodontist if possible.
2. Look at previous cases on their social media profiles, they should exhibit the following:
a) You should see 70 – 80% of the lower front teeth (see image above) when the teeth are biting together. If the pictures do not show the teeth in contact, this is often because there has been a worsening of the bite.
b) Upper and lower midlines should match (see image below).
3. Ask to see ten to fifteen fixed braces before and after results as this shows the person has experience when it comes to orthodontic treatment prior to starting with Invisalign.
4. Ask to see three examples of a patient’s teeth similar to yours and what results were achieved (being careful to evaluate the results against point 2 a and b).
5. Ask to see ten cases carried out with Invisalign and assess the results against the criteria of point 2.
6. Ensure the consultation is carried out by the actual person who is going to do your treatment.
7. Ask the question: Is there someone more experienced than you, in the surrounding area, who can provide a better result?
Dr. Ramtin Taheri (MDDr. Specialist Orthodontist, GDC 179105)