Dentist vs. Orthodontist: Highlighting the Difference

Figuring out whether you should be visiting a dentist or an orthodontist can be a difficult choice.

We’ve all been taught to visit a dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and routine checkups.

But the question is – “When exactly do we visit an orthodontist?”  

Better – “What’s the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?”

Not all dentists are orthodontists.

But all orthodontists can be called dentists.

This blog post sheds light on:

Let’s have a look.

What Does a Dentist Do?

Dentists are doctors who specialize in oral health. While both dentists and orthodontists are masters of oral health, a dentist is the go-to oral healthcare professional. From regular checkups to spotting and treating cavities and other oral hygiene problems, dentists provide the following care:

  • Extract Teeth
  • Conduct & Interpret Dental X-Rays
  • Deal with Cracked Teeth
  • Teeth Whitening
  • Perform Oral Surgery
  • Fill Cavities
  • Treat Gum Diseases
  • Install Veneers or Crown
  • Prescribe Treatment
  • And more!

Becoming a dentist isn’t easy. First, one needs to complete a bachelor’s in any field, followed by completing a few pre-requisite courses. Then the candidate is expected to attend and complete a 4-years professional dental school program. Upon earning his/her degree, the candidate needs to pass the state licensing exams – these depend on the states they desire to practice in. And finally, if you clear these exams, you’ll be rewarded with your State dental license.

When a dentist spots an out-of-expertise dental problem (misalignment in teeth, jaw, bite) that only an orthodontist can deal with, he/she will refer you to one in his/her network.

What Does an Orthodontist Do?

Orthodontists are dentists who specialize in tooth movement. Over 20% of the dentists based in the United States hold expertise in different fields:

  • Endodontics
  • Orthodontics
  • Public Health
  • Oral Surgery
  • Prosthodontics

In order to specialize and become an orthodontist, a dentist completes an additional 2-3 year orthodontic specialty program. Upon completion, the person needs to receive board certification before he/she can finally start practicing. Orthodontists are specialists with expertise in diagnosing, preventing, intercepting, and treating dental abnormalities like:

  • Crooked Teeth
  • Bite Problems
  • Crowded or Too Far Apart Teeth
  • Jaw Misalignment

Orthodontists go through a rigorous 3,700 hours of specialized orthodontic training – which means they are highly trained to help you deal with your dental abnormalities and provide a customized, actionable treatment plan. 

Some of the areas orthodontists focus on include:

  • Diagnose & Treat Misaligned Teeth & Bite
  • Monitor Growth & Development of Jaws
  • Conduct a Teeth Straightening Surgery
  • Prepare a Treatment & Retention Plan
  • Install Dental Appliances Like Palatal Expanders, Braces & Appliances
  • Supervise Facial Growth in Kids

Along with creating healthy and beautiful smiles, orthodontists’ area of expertise lies in making sure that your teeth, bite, jaw feel good and function properly. 

Misaligned teeth are harder to clean and maintain. And this may result in abnormal wearing of the tooth enamel – and in turn, lead to expensive and tedious dental procedures. 

So if you are dealing with dental abnormalities that require the expertise and assistance of an orthodontist, we’d advise you to head over to our office today. 

The Differences Between a Dentist & an Orthodontist

Both dentists and orthodontists play a crucial role in helping one deal with their oral health. Often, you’ll see dentists and orthodontists working closely to craft an effective treatment plan – allowing them to take their patients’ overall oral health into consideration.

Think of your dentist as a general practitioner. 

On the other hand, an orthodontist is a tooth movement specialist. Orthodontists have about 3,700 hours of intensive education and training exclusively focused on the movement of teeth, facial bones, jawbones, and soft tissue. They are the dental growth and development experts and are also referred to as “dentofacial orthopedists.” 

Usually, most of your dental issues will be addressed and resolved upon visiting a dentist. However, if your dentist spots a dental problem that requires serious tooth movement expertise, you need to book an appointment with an orthodontist. That’s because aligning the bite and teeth straightening are complex biological procedures – and not quick fixes. Hence, it’s critical to visit a specialist who holds deep expertise in the movement of teeth, facial bones, jawbones, and soft tissue.

Maybe, your teeth are overcrowded. 

Or maybe there’s a gap between them. 

Or what if they aren’t properly aligned? 

The structure of the mouth and gums requires tight alignment. And you may find your teeth suffering – if left unaddressed.

At OX Orthodontix, we offer numerous services and are laser-focused on enhancing your smile and ensure the proper functioning of your teeth. Every single one of our specialists takes great pride in being a part of the American Association of Orthodontists. So, when it’s time to book an appointment with us, you won’t have to worry about choosing the almost-right person. Instead, you can take comfort in seeing the perfect fit.

We serve across Ellicott City & Clarksville – offering our premier orthodontic services to patients based in Clarksville, Columbia, MD & Ellicott City.

Following your initial consultation, our experts will prepare a strategic roadmap and treatment plan to provide you with the best dental service – like ever.

So, what are you waiting for?

Book an appointment today!

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