BY STACY WOLF, D.D.S.
Moving teeth is both an art and a science, best left to an orthodontic specialist who is extensively trained to safely and efficiently move teeth and create beautiful, healthy smiles.
Do you want to straighten your teeth? Improve your smile? Fix your bite? There are so many options for treatment, where do you even start? Your general dentist has a sign advertising Invisalign treatment in her waiting room. You saw a commercial for a direct-to-consumer product that gets shipped straight to your home. Your neighbor has raved about the local orthodontist in the elevator.
What is the difference between seeing an orthodontist, seeing your general dentist and skipping the doctor visits all together and treating yourself at home? Believe it or not, the difference is greater than you may think.
Becoming a dentist is hard work. Four years of rigorous dental education, followed by a single year of mandatory general practice residency training is required in order to practice general dentistry in the State of New York.
These professionals are extremely knowledgeable in all areas of their practice, however they do not focus on only one area of treatment.
An additional three years of specialized training is required in order to become an orthodontic specialist, just as additional training is required to become a cardiovascular surgeon. Would you trust your heart to a physician who doesn’t focus his or her practice solely on heart surgery?
The same should ring true for orthodontic treatment. And while general dentists can treat simple orthodontic cases if they have the proper training, the majority of patients should visit an orthodontic specialist for their treatment, starting with consultations at the age of seven.
The Risks of Do-It-Yourself Orthodontics
Imagine you need heart surgery, but instead of going to the hospital you perform all of the pre-surgical testing at home by yourself. You receive the surgical supplies in the mail with a how-to video giving instructions on how to do your own operation. This sounds outlandish, right?
Well, this is essentially what happens when you treat yourself with a straight-to-consumer orthodontic appliance. There is no dentist to determine the health of your teeth, gums or bone prior to treatment.
An x-ray is not even required to start. Treatment plans are not created by orthodontic specialists, and there is no medical monitoring of your treatment.
The results could be disastrous. Existing dental conditions like undiagnosed periodontal disease could be exacerbated. The roots of your teeth could be damaged without your knowledge. Your bite may end up worse than when you started, with back teeth that no longer touch, making chewing and eating difficult and frustrating.
And when these problems occur, you have no recourse. Most likely, you will end up in the office of an orthodontist who is trained to diagnose and treat not just crooked teeth, but the way your teeth fit together and influence your facial appearance as well. Why not just start there to begin with? Most orthodontists offer free consultations. Call your local orthodontic specialist today.