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

Dental care is like medical care in many ways, including the division of dentists into generalists and specialists. Every branch of dentistry begins with 4 years of dental school.  After graduating dental school, dentists may decide to continue their education in a residency program.  Examples of recognized residency programs include Orthodontics, Pediatric Dentistry, Oral Surgery, Periodontics, Endodontics, Prosthodontics, and Community Health.  These residency programs have been developed to give the training needed to perform these specialties in dentistry because adequate time and patient experience is not available during the 4 years of dental school.  As a resident, all patients treated are only within the desired specialty and upon graduation, a national and state board are taken before a specialist receives a state license.   The State of Oklahoma requires all licensed specialists to pass a specialty exam and hold a specialty license, in addition to their general dentistry license.   Only an Orthodontic Specialist may use the term “Orthodontist” to describe himself professionally, and limit their practice to Orthodontics exclusively!

Many dentists desire to focus their practice towards certain aspects of dentistry and they take continuing education courses to learn about specific dental procedures and newer technologies.  Traditionally these courses focused on gaining more experience in dentistry such as root canals, extracting wisdom teeth, and gum surgeries.  As the public’s desire for cosmetics has increased, the weekend courses have predominately turned to cosmetics including;  cosmetic restorations (veneers), teeth whitening, injections and fillers, sleep apnea, and orthodontics.

An orthodontist’s job is to diagnose patient’s problems and offer the best treatment options, all while understanding and avoiding possible complications. It's not just about the pretty straight teeth, but the overall health and stability, facial balance, and function.  So, when it’s time for you to get braces for your children or yourself, think about the differences in the education and experience.  It really speaks for itself. 

Why an Orthodontist? from AAO on Vimeo.

Are you really happy with your smile?

This is a great question that many adults don’t want to honestly answer! The problem is that many of you aren’t aware of many great options available for adults needing orthodontics. Today, cosmetic orthodontic appliances are a big part of dentistry.

Invisalign is a great option that we offer. This type of correction involves wearing clear aligners, which are removed only during mealtimes. This is a great option for many older teens and adults, depending on the orthodontic needs of that person.

The other option would be our hidden lingual appliance called Incognito. These braces are placed behind the teeth and are the most cosmetically pleasing option of all the appliances on the market today. This is a great appliance for older teens/adults that don’t want anyone to know they are undergoing orthodontic treatment! Esthetique Orthodontics is the only “Center of Excellence” in Oklahoma for this option, and Dr. Emerson has the most experience in the state with this orthodontic appliance.

If either of these options sounds intriguing to you, give us a call today for a complimentary consultation! You’ll be one step closer to achieving a straight, healthy and confident smile.

Holiday Heath from Esthetique by Emerson

The holidays are some of the few times in the year where we can feast and not feel guilty! But, candy canes, caramel candy and other sweet treats can be hazardous to your teeth. We want you to have your cake and eat it too, so here are six tips to keep in mind during the holiday season to keep your mouth in cheeful spirits!

Merry Mouth Tips

Avoid frequent snacking - There's enough food for everybody! Take breaks from eating so that your saliva can neutralize acid and repair tooth enamel.

Use a straw - Steer the acids in your drink away from direct contact with your teeth. This minimizes any damage from the acidity, as well as any staining that may occur.

Rinse your mouth with water - Try taking 15 to 20 seconds to cleanse your teeth after eating something acidic. Doing this simple trick stops the acid from attacking your teeth and also encourages the production of saliva, which helps avoid bad breath.

Chew sugar-free gum - Similar to the previous tip, chewing gum increases the production of saliva. Sharing gum at parties is also a great way to break the ice.

Pass on chewy treats - Holiday candy platters are often loaded with treats that can harm your teeth. Sugary substances cling to tooth enamel and encourage tooth decay. Sticky candies like caramel and taffy can even cause damage to your dental work!

Use proper tools to open packages and bottles - We know you're excited to rip into that gift from your great aunt, but teeth are not the right tools for the task. Gripping a package or stubborn bottle cap with your teeth can cause permanent damage. Give your mouth a great gift - reach for scissors or a bottle opener instead.


Why Braces? Why Now?

Many adults suffer from crooked teeth or top and bottom teeth that don't fit properly together. This can exacerbate other issues like TMD, gastrointestinal (problems associated with abnormal chewing), bone and gum disease and low self-esteem, just to name a few. It's not too late to straighten and correct the alignment of your teeth! Almost 40% of Dr. Emerson's current patients are adults. As long as you have healthy teeth, gums, and bone, you are probably a candidate for orthodontics!

Many adults are looking for a cosmetic option to align their teeth such as Invisalign aligners. At Esthetique, we offer Invisalign, but the majority of our patients are looking for something even more discrete and choose our Incognito braces that are hidden behind the teeth. With hidden treatment available, there has never been a better time to achieve a beautiful smile and take steps to protecting the health and longevity of your teeth.

Advancements in Incognito Hidden Braces

  • Incognito is in their 4th generation of bracket. The newest upgrade is brackets that are 60% thinner, meaning much closer to the tooth. For the patient that means less tongue irritation. For the doctor that means better control of the tooth with the wire which leads to better results in less time.
  • We will soon be using an intra-oral scanner starting in January. We no longer need to take gooey impressions of people's mouths in order to make the custom braces. We scan the teeth (takes less than 2 minutes) and email the file to Incognito. No impressions cuts down the construction time of the braces by over a week. So, you are more comfortable with the process and on to straighter teeth faster.

I have hated my teeth since I can remember! Finally just after my 50th birthday I can smile and be proud of my teeth! No more putting my hand over my mouth or smiling without teeth! I got my braces off today (after only 11 months worn)!!! Thank you Dr. Emerson and Thanks to your wonderful staff!!! Everyone there is wonderful. Dr. Emerson you did exactly what you said you would do and it looks better than I could have ever imagined!!! Thank you!!


I previously worked in the dental field myself for 25 years so I'm pretty picky when it comes to doctors. Emerson Orthodontics "had me at hello"! Aside from being extremely efficient, the doctor and his (obviously well picked) staff are warm, welcoming and friendly. The exact type of office I would have enjoyed working with! Which explains why I chose them for myself and my children's orthodontic treatment!!

american dental association american association of orthodontists southwestern society of orthodontists oklahoma dental association elite lingual orthodontist
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