What is an Orthodontist anyway?

August 8th, 2014

When the time comes to decide where to go for a consultation about improving your smile in the greater Omaha metropolitan area, a quick Google search will reveal you have lots of options. As you scroll through the possibilities you will see that some of the doctors offering braces or Invisalign ® mention they are specialists or orthodontists and some do not.   So what is the difference, and what difference does it make?


My Life. My Smile. My Orthodontist.

Orthodontists complete 10 or more years of education after high school in order to be adequately prepared and qualified to diagnose and effectively manage tooth movement and facial development. After completing the same university classes that are prerequisite to attend medical school, future orthodontists first become dentists, completing the same rigorous four years of dental school that your primary care dentist completed. After dental school, acceptance in an orthodontic residency is very competitive. Out of every 100 graduating dentists, only six have the privilege of acceptance in an orthodontic residency program. Then, only after successfully completing 2-3 years of focused post-graduate residency and the attendant testing and licensing processes required by individual states can a dentist qualify to become an orthodontist.


Although orthodontists have successfully completed training in the broad scope of general dental care including (but not limited to) identifying and removing decay, restoring teeth with fillings, veneers, crowns and bridges, performing root canals, extracting teeth and providing deep cleaning for periodontally compromised teeth, they choose to limit the scope of their practice to orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. The American Association of Orthodontists recently published a document that succinctly describes an orthodontist.

"Orthodontists are uniquely qualified in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of orthodontic problems. They dedicate their professional lives to creating healthy, beautiful smiles in children, teens and adults. Well-aligned teeth are more than attractive: they make it possible to bite, chew and speak effectively. Orthodontic care is often part of a comprehensive oral health plan.

Orthodontists use a variety of “appliances,” including braces, clear aligner trays and retainers, to move teeth or hold them in their new positions. Because of orthodontists’ advanced education and clinical experience, they have the knowledge and skills necessary to recommend the best kind of appliance to meet every individual patient’s treatment goals."


Dr. Paul McAllister completed 12 years of formal education after high school, earning a bachelor's degree at Brigham Young University and completing post-graduate work at Arizona State University prior to earning his doctorate of medical dentistry (DMD) at Oregon Health and Science University. He then completed a 30 month orthodontic residency at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Dr. McAllister is dedicated to constant improvement through perpetual formal continuing education and active participation in local and national study clubs. He even uses some of his vacation time to travel to the offices of outstanding orthodontists around the country to observe and learn from them so he can improve his skills and offer the very best to his patients in Nebraska.

Braces and clear aligners are tools that can legally be used by anyone with a dental license. However, just like not everyone who uses a hammer or a saw is an accomplished finish carpenter, it is important to find a specialist with the training, skill, experience and sincere interest in helping you achieve your goals.

At McAllister Orthodontics, with locations in Omaha and Fremont, Nebraska, Dr. McAllister and his compassionate and well-trained staff are excited to meet you and help you achieve the beautiful smile you have always wanted. Learn more about the McAllister Ortho team at www.mcallisterortho.com, and call 402-392-1516 today to schedule your complimentary consultation with Dr. McAllister. We love to see you smile!

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