Orthodontics and its myths

All dentists look alike

What's the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?

Orthodontists are dentists who have specialized in orthodontics at the end of their studies. This specialization requires a further 2 to 4 years' training. On average, orthodontists study an additional three years at university. Orthodontics is the study of tooth movement and the reconstruction of beautiful smiles.

Please note: not all dentists who present themselves as orthodontists are actually orthodontists. Some of them have only taken a few weeks of orthodontic classes and have only a very basic understanding of how teeth move.

So, of course, there's a big difference between the training of a dentist who has attended a school specializing in orthodontics and that of a dentist who has only studied the subject superficially. With an orthodontist who has undergone specific studies, you can rest assured that his or her knowledge is complete and solid.

What are the criteria for choosing a good orthodontist?

1. Continuous learning

Some orthodontists take part in ongoing training courses to stay at the cutting edge of their profession. Others, on the other hand, are much less active in this field, believing that they don't need to keep up to date. However, science moves fast, so it's important not to lose sight of the latest innovations, in order to offer the most optimal treatment possible. That's why you can trust your orthodontist if he or she never stops learning.

2. The conferences

An orthodontist who gives lectures attaches real importance to updating his or her professional knowledge and passing it on. Indeed, being a lecturer requires not only mastery of the latest innovations, but also a genuine passion for the discipline and a willingness to participate in its development. This aspect can help you choose between several orthodontists by distinguishing their degree of investment in the field.

3. Scientific research

An orthodontist who conducts research verifies his or her own information, adds to it and is thus at the cutting edge of orthodontic knowledge. What's more, his or her work contributes to the latest developments in the field. Armed with this increased knowledge, the orthodontic researcher will be able to optimize the treatment of his patients, while facilitating the work of his colleagues.

4. Make a brand or technique the core of your business

Beware of orthodontists who hide behind a particular technique or brand: "I only useInvisalign ", "I only use Damon brackets", and so on.

Recently, a new phenomenon has emerged: "fast braces". Their users claim to be able to solve complex orthodontic problems in less than three months - which is, of course, impossible. And there's a new trend from the USA: do it yourself orthodontics. Even more dangerous to health, this trend claims that anyone can do their own orthodontics at home. In reality, such an approach is absolutely forbidden, as it exposes the practitioner to considerable risks.

Some also argue that there is no single best brand or appliance for correcting teeth. In truth, the orthodontist should be impartial and able to use all techniques, even if he or she has preferences. On the other hand, it's important that he doesn't associate the results obtained with a specific appliance or brand. Most of the time, orthodontists who hide behind a brand name are not true specialists and have only limited training.

5. The use of cutting-edge technologies

The use of lasers :

lasers enable simultaneous incision and healing, while avoiding bleeding.

The use of customized devices :

the final result sought for a specific individual is a personalized project. Personalization is therefore essential for clear aligners (such as Invisalign) as well as for certain metal braces (such as Insignia).

The use of digital fingerprints :

Digital impressions are revolutionary because they eliminate the inconvenience of taking physical impressions. They are much more precise than conventional physical impressions, and enable the creation of appliances that are better adapted to the shape of the teeth.

How do you know if an orthodontist is competent?

1. Website and CV

An orthodontist needs to have a good website where he can detail his career path, his training and highlight his skills. If the information available on his website isn't enough for you, why not ask for his CV? It's not a common practice, but there's no reason why it shouldn't be. What's wrong with asking someone about their training? We have nothing to hide. So it's a legitimate request on the part of a patient; it's simply a question of presenting his or her career path and the training received.

2. Local dental associations - SSO, SSODF

You can also contact your local association of dentists and orthodontists. In Switzerland, the FSO.ch website provides information on practitioners. The aim is to encourage each of its members to excel. In short, the aim is to protect the dental profession by ensuring that it has a certain reputation and that bad practitioners do not tarnish it. You can also refer to local sites, such as SVMD, which belongs to the canton of Vaud, for precise information on dentists.

Finally, the Swiss Association of Orthodontists SSODF is very active and also provides a list of all officially recognized orthodontic specialists.


When it comes to specific treatments, it's natural to turn to specialists. In the case of dental care, the orthodontist is one such specialist. Of course, orthodontists can treat cavities, fit prostheses or perform other treatments in the same way as any other dentist. However, since orthodontists have invested their time and energy in the pursuit of excellence in a very specific field, what's in it for them to take on the more general role of dentist?

Who wants to consult a specialist who doesn't practice in his or her own field?

Let's take an example: your car is malfunctioning. To repair it, you go to a dealer of the corresponding brand rather than to an ordinary garage.

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