The Most Common Misconceptions About Orthodontists

Most people know what a general dentist does, but some confusion presents itself when it comes to understanding what orthodontists do. This lack of clarity can result in common misconceptions about orthodontists and how specialized they are when treating your smile. Dr. Sandifer’s treatment decisions rest on giving the most stable result with the best facially driven outcome for each and every unique patient. But what does that mean? Keep reading below as we clear up some myths about orthodontists and explain how Dr. Sandifer can improve your oral health and facial appearance through orthodontic treatment! 

Dentists and orthodontists are interchangeable

Perhaps the biggest misconception about orthodontists is that they’re interchangeable with a general dentist. Both careers begin with dental school, and both professions want to help patients maintain a healthy mouth, but there are quite a few differences between the two. If you’re concerned about tooth pain or suspect a cavity, a dentist should be your first stop! These dental health professionals can treat aching teeth, decay, cavities, gum disease, and other common health problems. They also offer checkups and professional cleaning services to keep your mouth in tip-top shape. It is so important that every patient of Dr. Sandifer’s has a general dentist and that their teeth are in tip top shape prior to orthodontic treatment. This is something that she emphasizes keeping in check as well all throughout orthodontic treatment and after. Seeing your general dentist every 6 months for a lifetime is so important in keeping big issues at bay such as cavities and gum disease which can result in permanent tooth loss! No worries if you do not have a dental home, your friends at Sandifer Orthodontics can recommend many great dentists in the area who will take great care of you. 

So what are orthodontists? How are they different from dentists? Orthodontists have a more specialized focus. Patients at Sandifer Orthodontics have been referred by dentists, dental specialists, friends, or family for issues related to crooked teeth, delayed permanent teeth, or a problem with their bite.  These problems go beyond the cosmetic appearance of a patient’s smile. When left untreated, they can lead to symptoms that may affect everyday tasks such as eating, speaking, breathing (apnea), behavior (ADD, ADHD) and even digesting food properly! An orthodontist like Dr. Sandifer is trained to identify and correct these issues by prescribing braces, clear aligners, early baby tooth removal, or other appliances.

The Most Common Misconceptions About Orthodontists

Dentists and orthodontists receive the same education and training 

As we mentioned above, dentists and orthodontists begin their careers in dental school. However, after graduation, orthodontists take a different path by embarking on extra years of specialized training and education. These programs are highly competitive, and only the top students in any dental school’s graduating class are accepted. They usually last about 2-3 years, with a full-time focus on identifying and correcting orthodontic issues to create a healthier, more balanced smile and bite. Once they complete this rigorous residency program, a dentist will become an orthodontist. 

The specialized treatment dentists and orthodontists provide are not the same

Dentists and orthodontists both have a solid education, with plenty of training and experience in caring for smiles! However, an orthodontist like Dr. Sandifer will have more years of specialized education and practice in dealing with addressing tooth and bite alignment because this is what she does all day, every day. Although some dentists provide basic orthodontic care, like clear aligners or braces for minor misalignments, orthodontists specialize in identifying and correcting issues on a broader spectrum. Orthodontists are rigorously trained in how the face grows and how to recognize underlying health issues that relate to the overall growth/relationship of the bite. 

Think about this…. If you go in for a routine exam with your general medical practitioner and he/she finds that you need more diagnostics/surgery/treatment related to your heart, is he/she going to suit up and perform all the diagnostics and prescribe the surgery to address your heart condition. No!! He is going to refer you to someone who treats heart conditions EVERY SINGLE DAY on EVERY SINGLE PATIENT- a cardiologist. Orthodontists are the “cardiologist” of tooth straightening, treating bites, and giving the best facial aesthetic outcome. It is what they do EVERY SINGLE DAY on EVERY SINGLE PATIENT. Does that make sense?

Orthodontists are also the best choice for helping patients in Jackson and Brandon avoid any unnecessary complications. They’re more likely to notice the small things that a general dentist may overlook and will only recommend the appropriate treatment plan for you. This means treatment times are reduced, there’s less chance of complications developing, and the treatment plan itself will be time- and cost-effective.

If your family dentist offers orthodontic care, you can certainly consider them an option. There are many dentists who are able to provide beautiful results!  This is understandable, as most of us prefer the things we’re familiar with over the unknown. But before you move forward with orthodontic treatment by your dentist, consider what an experienced orthodontic specialist will be able to provide you. This includes: 

  • traditional metal and clear ceramic braces (ex: Damon Braces-what Dr. Sandifer uses)
  • Clear aligners (ex: Invisalign– what Dr. Sandifer uses)
  • a customized treatment plan created just for you based on your unique smile, specific needs, and desired results
  • more efficient treatments and visits since orthodontics is the main focus
  • the best possible outcome for your smile, particularly if your case is complex or severe

At Sandifer Orthodontics, our only focus is orthodontic care and treatment. We put so much time and work into perfecting what we do! Our offices are equipped with the most current equipment and our team is trained on the most up-to-date orthodontic treatment available, allowing us to provide every patient with only the best in customized orthodontic care.

Orthodontists treat patients of all ages

If you tend to imagine a teen in braces whenever you hear the term “orthodontics,” you’re not alone! While it’s true that tweens and teens make up a significant percentage of orthodontic patients, treatment can be beneficial to patients of all ages. In addition to teens, we work with young children and adults in our Jackson and Brandon offices. We’ve seen firsthand that there’s no age limit for achieving a straighter smile and better oral health!  

But I have to be referred to an orthodontist, right???

Many people think that they have to be referred to a specific orthodontist through their dentist. This is NOT TRUE! You can choose any orthodontist that works for you. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child at the age of 7 should be seen by an orthodontist. There are early interventions that can be paramount to the overall development of the craniofacial complex. Dr. Sandifer has questions on her initial intake forms that allow her to be able to diagnose any airway related issues that could be affecting your child’s behavior, sleep patterns, facial growth (that is unwanted and not esthetic). This goes to show you that orthodontists are not just treating teeth, they are treating the whole dentofacial complex. That is why orthodontists are specialists in “Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics”.   While Dr. Sandifer has many competent dentists and specialists that refer children into her practice at this age, sometimes, referrals can come when it is “too late” for simple orthodontic protocols that could have been implemented to greatly enhance overall development of the craniofacial complex and avoid unnecessary jaw surgery or extraction of permanent teeth. Get your child in an orthodontist’s care starting at age 7. You will not regret it. Dr. Sandifer monitors all of her young patients not quite ready for treatment every 6 months. During this time she is keeping a close watch on their individual smile development, facial growth, and permanent tooth eruption.

The Most Common Misconceptions About Orthodontists

Trust your smile to the experts at Sandifer Orthodontics

Sandifer Orthodontics is proud to offer patients of all ages a rewarding orthodontic experience from the first appointment to the last. Since our sole specialty is orthodontics, you can trust that we have the training and expertise necessary to help you achieve the most exceptional results! You’ll also benefit from our personalized treatment plans and world-class care. 

If you’re ready to take the first step towards a healthier smile, our team would love to meet you! You’ll receive an orthodontic evaluation with Dr. Sandifer when you schedule a FREE consultation. Following this exam, she’ll provide you with a diagnosis and outline a customized treatment plan. 

Don’t worry—this is a no-pressure appointment! Even if you decide not to pursue orthodontic treatment immediately, we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have to help you make an informed decision.

There’s never been a better time to get the beautiful smile you deserve, so get in touch today to schedule your free consultation with our expert team!