While most people understand that both dentists and orthodontists deal with teeth, jaws, and more, many people don’t understand the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist. You may think a particular tooth problem should be handled by your local san tan valley dentist, but maybe it would be better to see an orthodontist instead, and vice versa. Learn more about the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist and when to see each below.
What is a Dentist?
To become a dentist, one has to attend four years of dental school after finishing an undergraduate degree. Dentists receive comprehensive education and training about all aspects of the mouth, including teeth and gums health, as well as several interventions to improve oral health. Some of those interventions may include treating tooth decay, handling root canals, combating gum disease, placing crowns or bridges, and improving the appearance of teeth with whitening and veneers.
If you are experiencing tooth or gum pain, cracked or chipped teeth, and cavities, or if you want a brighter smile or dental implants, make an appointment to speak with your local dentist. It is also important that you see a dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings at least every six months, though some patients may need to be seen more often.
What is an Orthodontist?
After attending dental school, some grads will opt to attend two or three more years of an orthodontist residency. This additional training equips orthodontists with the knowledge they need to correct tooth and jaw alignment problems, overcrowded teeth, overbites and underbites, as well as temporomandibular disorders (TMD).
If you are experiencing tooth or jaw alignment issues, gaps between teeth, overcrowded teeth, and other related issues visiting an orthodontist is your best bet. It’s also beneficial to have your children see an orthodontist after their permanent teeth come in to have a professional assess whether your child needs braces or other interventions.
The Bottom Line
All orthodontists are dentists that received additional education and training on tooth and jaw alignment problems and techniques, but not all dentists are orthodontists. It can be confusing to keep the two straight, but your dental and orthodontal teams will work with you to help you understand where you need to go and who you need to see for various conditions and needs.
Both orthodontists and dentists serve important roles in maintaining the health of your teeth and the appearance of your smile!