Orthodontists in both Canada and the United States will have either a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or a DDM (Doctor of Dental Medicine) credential after their name. The only real difference is that some schools use one set of degree letters, while others award degrees with the other designation. Dental associations consider both degrees equal. Some orthodontists also have completed a MSC or MS (Masters of Science) degree, so these letters will follow a DDM or DDS credential. Here at HGS Ortho, our Port Coquitlam and Richmond patients sometimes ask us what the difference is between a orthodontist and dentist. An orthodontist is a dentist with an extra two or three years of post graduate residency study.
During these years, corrective orthodontic procedures in the teeth, jaws and face are the focus. Whereas general dentists provide patients with many different dental services, orthodontists focus on repairing bites and straightening teeth as well as fixing jaw and facial problems. For example, an orthodontist may help reconstruct facial damage in a patient who was injured in a car accident. He or she also treats problems such as TMJ disorder in which the joint that moves the jaw isn’t functioning efficiently and/or causes pain during chewing or talking.
Of course, applying braces on teen and adult patients is a common tasks of orthodontists today. Whereas decades ago metal braces were the only option and were worn mainly by teens, today’s orthodontics involves clear aligners for teeth such as Invisalign. The nearly invisible look of Invisalign makes braces a popular tooth straightening option for many adults — including many Port Coquitlam and Richmond residents treated by Dr. Geoffrey Smith. Although many children don’t require braces until at least 10 years of age, age 7 is the recommended age for the first appointment with an orthodontist. If your child will be turning 7 or if your teen or you are interested in orthodontics such as Invisalign, give our team a call at 604.464.2527.