Dentist vs. Orthodontist for Braces

Considering braces or Invisalign for you or your child? Then you may be wondering if you will need to see an orthodontist, or if this is something your general dentist might be able to do. Many people wrongly assume dentists and orthodontists are interchangeable, and are unsure of the differences between the two. There are many disparities that set them apart even though they share a few similarities. It is important to understand what orthodontists like Dr. Faja-Fernandez have to offer that general dentists do not, because an orthodontic treatment, like braces, is a big commitment. At Seabreeze Orthodontics we want you to be armed with all the information you need to decide which option is best for you!


Up until they graduate from dental school, orthodontists and dentists follow the exact same educational path. But after that is when their paths diverge. Orthodontists embark on a journey that includes extra years of schooling and specialized training in straightening teeth. Orthodontists are dentists who have additional specialized training in the field of orthodontics. Only the top dental students continue their education toward a specialty in orthodontics because acceptance into an orthodontic residency program is so competitive. These students undergo an additional two to three years of full-time training that concentrates on orthodontia and focuses on bite problems, braces, and straightening teeth. Only after a dentist has successfully completed this residency program are they able to refer to themselves as a licensed orthodontist. Dr. Faja-Fernandez earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine and Certificate in Orthodontics from the Medical University of South Carolina.

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Technically, yes, general dentists can straighten teeth. Some general dentists take on the same kind of rigorous training orthodontists experience after completing dental school. So yes, there are exceptions to every rule. After this training they may provide orthodontic care to their patients. This is only permitted if the dentist has committed to taking continuing education seminars and acquiring extra experience in the subject, like with Invisalign’s requirement that general dentists attend specific workshops before they are allowed to offer the treatment in their practice. These workshops and seminars often lack the kind of in-depth testing needed to truly learn such extensive and specific material in depth. So while this might give dentists additional knowledge on a subject, it is not exactly a perfect system. An understanding of the subject on the surface is not always enough to be able to provide the best possible treatment for individual patients, especially when orthodontic treatment is concerned.


It is natural to consider using your primary care dentist for treatment if you find they offer orthodontic care. It is already a familiar environment and all dentists do receive basic orthodontic training in school. Before you consider moving forward with braces or Invisalign by your dentist, consider that an orthodontist:

  • Will have experience treating multiple cases similar to your own unique concerns and anatomical characteristics.
  • Is more efficient at treatments and scheduled visits, since this is their focused area of care.
  • Can deliver the best possible outcome on your treatment plan, especially if you have dental issues that are more complicated or severe.
  • Is able to provide more treatment options with a wide variety of braces or other therapies to choose from.

Orthodontists focus solely on orthodontic care and treatment which means they devote a great deal of time and energy to perfecting their specialty! General dentists may be more inclined to use a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment because they have to focus on so many different dental issues. Orthodontists perform teeth straightening procedures daily, keep up to date on the latest industry practice, purchase cutting-edge equipment, and Dr. Faja-Fernandez takes advantage of as many continuing education courses as he can throughout the year. As an experienced orthodontist, he knows how to create the best individualized treatment method for each patient.

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As the patient, the ultimate choice of care provider is left up to you. Some general dentists do have a fair amount of orthodontic knowledge and experience, which is great. But an orthodontist is focused solely on orthodontic issues and is much more likely to have dealt with the specific kinds of dental issues that require orthodontic care. If you suddenly found yourself in need of brain surgery, would your first choice of care provider be your primary care physician – or an experienced neurologist? A neurologist will naturally have a great deal more experience where brain-related issues are concerned. This approach applies to teeth as well. Having a general dentist perform specialized orthodontic work is a bit like a general physician performing brain surgery. It can be done, but would you want to risk it? Orthodontists are often invested in long-term care plans for their patients. Dentists may be more likely to emphasize short-term results and treatment plans. Orthodontists also avoid complications whenever possible and focus on optimal treatment approaches. With the training to notice the small things a dentist might overlook, orthodontists like Dr. Faja-Fernandez are able to reduce the chances of any complications developing and recommend plans that save you time and money. Why risk your health and finances by seeking treatment from someone with less knowledge, experience, and specialized education when Seabreeze Orthodontics has everything you need for the best braces and Invisalign treatment possible?

At Seabreeze Orthodontics our sole specialty IS orthodontics and we guarantee that we will give you the best quality, cost, and efficiency in treatment.  After your initial exam, Dr. Faja-Fernandez will explore with you how orthodontic treatment could benefit your smile and outline a personalized treatment plan just for you. If you are in the Myrtle Beach area, stop by our office or call today! Our team is here to see you through your treatment from start to finish. Let us begin this journey toward a perfect and healthy smile together!