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Difference Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist

13 December 2016
dentist with face mask

Taking care of your teeth should be a lifelong effort, and while dentists and orthodontists both help patients to maintain healthy teeth and gums; they do so in different ways.

It may seem obvious to patients that visit their dentist regularly, but one area that can cause confusion for some people is understanding the real differences between an orthodontist and a dentist.

Keep reading if you fall into this category, as we’re about to uncover some of the main factors that differentiate a dentist from an orthodontist.

What is a Dentist?

dentist in operating procedure

While both dentists and orthodontists will have similar educational backgrounds, dentistry is a very broad medical speciality that deals with the gums, teeth, nerves and the jaw.

Your primary dental care provider will be your dentist and he/she is in charge of diagnosing, treating and managing your overall oral health care. This incorporates performing regular dental work like check-ups, cleaning and X-rays.

Generally, a dentist’s job also involves removing or repairing problem teeth, filling cavities, performing oral surgeries and making models for dentures.

Many dentists further their studies by also specialising in and practising orthodontics. However, more often than not, if you need treatment that’s outside the scope of your dentist’s expertise, he/she will refer your case to another dental specialist.

When the treatment you need is related to teeth alignment or over and under bite correction, that dental specialist will be an orthodontist.

What is an Orthodontist?

orthodontist

An orthodontist is someone who specialises in the alignment of jaws and teeth using non-surgical methods. Common cases that are often referred to an orthodontist include over and under bites and teeth that are too crowded or spaced too far apart.

When you visit an orthodontist, he/she will evaluate your bite to determine if you need orthodontic treatment. Depending on your specific case, you might be advised to get braces, wear retainers, or explore some other correctional treatment.

Although orthodontists are mainly thought of for their administration and care regarding braces, their expertise can also play a major role in the overall health of a person’s mouth and body.

Fixing crooked or misaligned teeth are not just superficial concerns; they can contribute to more serious problems such as headaches, speech impediments, lock jaw and/or bone destruction.

Why it’s Important to see your Dentist Regularly 

Making the effort to see your dentist on a regular basis is essential if you want to ensure good oral health and a great smile. Not only will you reap the benefits of getting a regular professional clean and preventative work done, your dentist will also be able to refer you to an orthodontist if he/she detects a problem.

This early intervention could literally mean the difference between having to get minor treatment and having to wear braces for 12+ months so never underestimate the power of booking yourself in for regular appointments with your dentist.

Your teeth and your overall health and well being will thank you for it.

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