Maintaining excellent oral health is an essential piece of your overall health and well-being. However, it can be confusing to determine which type of dental treatment is right for you or for your child. To explain the difference between dentists and orthodontists, Thomas Orthodontics is here to help.
Read on to learn what the key differences are between these two types of providers, and how they can work together to give you the healthiest smile possible.
Both Have Degrees in Dentistry
Both orthodontists and dentists begin their training in dental school, which is typically a four-year program. Science courses, including biology, physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, and microbiology are all part of the required training to become a reputable and licensed care provider. Dentists and orthodontists start their practical training on models of teeth, and all dental students are exposed to various specialties through a rotation in general training.
Some students are immediately drawn to a particular specialty, such as orthodontics and oral surgery, while others enjoy the focus on general dentistry and cosmetic dentistry.
General dentists may or may not have to complete a residence, depending on their geographical location; however, aspiring orthodontists must continue their studies in an accredited residency program. The 2-3 year orthodontic residency is much more focused than dental school, as residents learn skills such as types of malocclusions and sophisticated techniques. Continued education is essential to gain the knowledge involved in straightening teeth and correcting other types of dental or facial abnormalities.
Dentists are essential in creating and maintaining a healthy smile throughout your life. You should see a dentist routinely for cleanings and x-rays, in addition to additional corrective dentistry treatments. While thorough and lasting oral health is your dentist’s primary concern, specific treatments can help a patient achieve a beautiful smile through:
- Preventive treatments
- Root canals
- Tooth extractions
- Dental X-rays
- Wisdom teeth extractions
- Cavity treatments
- TMJ treatments
- Gum disease treatments
- Emergency dental services
- Teeth whitening
- Other cosmetic dentistry treatments
An orthodontist specializes in the alignment of the teeth and jaws using non-surgical treatments. An orthodontist will diagnose, prevent, and treat malocclusions, or bad bites. You may be referred to an orthodontist if you have an overbite, underbite, gaps, or overcrowded teeth. Typical orthodontic treatments include:
- Traditional metal braces
- Palatal expanders
- Other corrective orthodontic appliances
Orthodontists Are Specialists In Tooth Movement
When exploring the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist, it’s critical to recognize orthodontia goes much deeper than merely straightening the teeth. Improper tooth alignment and jaw misalignment can lead to a wide range of health issues, including:
- Improper chewing and related digestive issues
- Speech impediments
- Social issues and anxiety related to crooked teeth
- Chronic headaches
- Sleep disruptions, like sleep apnea
- Bone Damage
- Damage to other teeth and your gums
Knowing Who To See
In many cases, there may be an overlap in the services that a dentist and an orthodontist may offer. In some cases, dentists are permitted to provide orthodontic treatment, including braces, in addition to general dentistry services. However, orthodontists usually only administer treatments that fall within their dental specialty. Only a dental professional who has undergone the proper training can be called an orthodontist.
Both categories of dental professionals are essential for your oral health. Dentists and orthodontists often work closely together to determine an effective treatment plan for their shared patients to give you the healthiest smile possible. Thomas Orthodontics is here to help answer any further questions about our services and to help guide you on your path to wellness. Contact us today to learn more.