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Can General Dentists Apply Invisalign Aligners?
It is not uncommon for general dentists today to be trained in the art of Invisalign®, which begs the question, should patients get aligners from a generalist or an orthodontist. The answer depends on a number of factors.
General dentists can provide Invisalign®, but should they?
The short answer to whether family dentists can provide Invisalign® aligners is yes, but some may argue that orthodontia should be left to those with specific orthodontic training. For instance, though generalists and orthodontists undergo the same initial training, upon graduating from dental school, the paths diverge. Generalists go on to practice dental care for profit while orthodontists continue to receive more schooling. Orthodontic residency programs are typically two to three years in length and are characterized by full-time training, much of which is hands-on. During the two to three years, residents focus on all areas of orthodontia, including braces, bite problems and other unconventional teeth-straightening techniques such as Invisalign®.
Many general dentists do not have the same in-depth training as orthodontists, which is why many do not offer Invisalign®. That said, many is not all, and there are some family dentists who receive enough training to create aligners for patients.
The Invisalign® ranking system
Though Invisalign® is an orthodontic treatment, the technology was originally invented so that dentists could administer it. Over time, orthodontists saw not only how effective the system was but also how attractive the option was to patients who desired straight teeth. Orthodontists then began offering the treatment, and it was not long before people began to turn to them over generalists.
However, the system is fairly universal and designed for both orthodontists and dentists to use despite varying skill levels. If that is the case, how can patients determine which professional to rely on for treatment? Many patients turn to the ranking system.
There are four levels of the ranking system, and advancement depends on the number of Invisalign® cases a professional successfully completes within a given timeframe. Those four levels are as follows:
- Preferred practitioners, which require professionals to complete at least 10 cases per year
- Premier rankings, which professionals can achieve by completing at least 50 cases and an additional 25 cases per every six months
- Premier Elite, which dental professionals can earn by treating at least 300 patients and an additional 50 patients every six months
- Super Elite, which is a brand-new ranking which only 1% of providers may join
The higher the ranking dentists have, the more qualified they likely are to administer Invisalign® treatment. Patients should always ask general dentists about rankings before agreeing to undergo treatment in-office.
General dentists can provide Invisalign® treatment, but as with any other health care service, patients should be careful about who performs certain procedures. If you are interested in Invisalign®, talk to your dentist about the process to make a more informed decision about whom you will allow to treat you.
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