Friday, July 6, 2012

Knowing the Difference

“We know of a general dentist who does braces. It seems like that would be cheaper. Why should we go to an orthodontist? What’s the difference, anyway?”

This reminds me of an old Sesame Street song,
“One of these things is not like the other. . .”

When it comes to choosing a health care provider, it’s important to understand the differences among the various options. Some general dentists do provide orthodontic care; but what separates them from the orthodontic specialist?

1. The first difference between a general dentist and an orthodontist is training. While a general dentist can take additional short courses in tooth movement (most are weekend courses), Both Dr. Greg, and Dr. Ethan have completed a full-time orthodontic residency after obtaining their dental degrees.

These post-graduate orthodontic programs focused not only on clinical training (how to achieve the desired results), but also on the scientific basis for clinical treatment. At SBS, we understand why treatments work on a biologic, cellular level. This knowledge enables us to make the very best choices for each individual case. Our advanced training helps us recognize and treat even the most complicated cases in our office—something the general dentist rarely does.

2. The second difference between a general dentist and an orthodontist is experience. During post-graduate training, Dr. Greg and Dr. Ethan spent years treating patients under direct supervision. In private practice, they continued to treat hundreds of cases per year. This gives them vast experience in moving teeth, correcting facial deformities, and creating beautiful smiles. Because the general dentist continues to perform routine procedures (exams, cleanings, restorations) between his ortho patients, he has far less opportunity to gain this kind of experience.

3. The third difference is efficiency. At Smiles By Sutherland, orthodontics is all we do. Every member of our staff is specially trained in orthodontic procedures. We do them all day long. We buy orthodontic supplies, equipment and technology. By focusing exclusively on orthodontics, our efficiency allows us to provide top-quality care at competitive prices. Many of our patients are surprised to discover little cost difference between the general dentist and specialized orthodontic treatment at SBS.

Choosing an orthodontic provider is a big decision. With so much at stake—your oral health, a beautiful smile, and a serious financial investment—we understand your need to understand all the options. That’s why we provide free consultations for every new patient.

Call for an appointment. We can help you sort through the possibilities!

Dr. Greg Sutherland,
Dr. Ethan Larson
(with Bette Nordberg)


  1. This makes a lot of sense, thank you. Personally I would rather pay more to have a specialist do the work for me. Your hearts for your patients really show through your posts and I appreciate that.

  2. Sutherland does such a great job!

  3. I would agree! My son is a patient of Smiles by Sutherland and when I speak to other parents the difference isn't found in the price tag. Smiles by Sutherland is excellent in patient education, customer service and orthodontia! thank you for making a difference in the smiles of our children!

  4. I have to agree, it does makes sense because I have seen some dentist offices offer Invisalign and I always wondered how was that possible. I look at a dentist as someone who takes care of the maintenance of the teeth i.e. cleaning, extracting, and so on and so forth. I look at an orthodontist as someone who goes deeper dealing with teeth because that is what they specialize in. I really appreciate this blog post. My friend did tell me to be careful when choosing who would put my son's braces on because you want someone who knows what they are doing. I'm so glad I chose Smiles by Sutherland.