Orthodontists and dentists share many similarities, they both strive to achieve beautiful healthy smiles, but the truth is, their jobs are very different. Dr. Kanani is here to explain.
What’s the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?
Dentists cover a broad range of oral health issues including cavities, gum disease, broken and missing teeth. Orthodontists are dental professionals that complete an additional three years in an accredited university focused solely on tooth and jaw alignment. Orthodontists only do orthodontics and that makes them most qualified to provide the most comprehensive and efficient treatment options when it comes to straightening your teeth. Dentists working with orthodontists result in the best overall dental health.
In order for patients to make informed decisions regarding treatment, it’s important to be aware of a few key differences between orthodontists and dentists:
What Is A Dentist
Dentists are doctors of oral health. Typically, dentists go to college for a pre-dentistry or pre-medical degree before going on to a graduate school of dentistry. Like all doctors, dentists are required to be extensively trained in their practice before becoming certified. About 80 percent of dentists practice what’s known as general dentistry.
Certified dentists can diagnose and treat oral health conditions of your teeth, gums, tongue, and mouth. They’re also able to clean your teeth, but dental hygienists usually take care of that. Dentists provide the following care:
- Whiten teeth
- Extract teeth
- Fill cavities
- Repair cracked teeth
- Promote oral health and oral hygiene
- Fill and bond teeth
- Install crowns or veneers
- Prescribe treatment, including prescription drugs, for oral health conditions
- Conduct and interpret dental X-rays
- Perform oral surgery
- Oversee the development of children’s teeth
- Treat gum disease, such as gingivitis
What Is An Orthodontist
Orthodontists are also doctors of oral health. Technically, they’re a kind of dentist with a specialty in tooth and jaw alignment. Certified orthodontists are trained to diagnose and treat oral health conditions of your teeth, gums, and mouth. But mostly, orthodontists focus on making sure your teeth and jaw are set correctly.
Orthodontists do the following:
- Supervise facial growth (jawline and bite) in children
- Perform teeth straightening surgery
- Create a treatment plan that includes braces and retainers
- Diagnose and treat misaligned teeth and jaws (malocclusion)
- Install dental appliances, such as braces, palatal expanders, orthodontic headgear, or Herbst appliances
Choosing a Dentist or Orthodontist
Both dentists and orthodontists play an important role in keeping your teeth healthy and looking good. Nevertheless, it’s crucial for patients to be aware that a general dentist offering orthodontic treatment doesn’t have all the additional training, certifications and experience in orthodontics that a certified orthodontist does.
The same way you’d expect your doctor to refer you to a specialist with additional training in a certain area, you should expect the same from your dentist.