The Difference Between a Dentist and Orthodontist

Up to 80 percent of dentists are involved in general dentistry. When looking for oral healthcare, dental practice matters a lot. Dentistry is a wide branch of medicine that includes several fields, such as cosmetic dentistry, pediatric dentistry, general dentistry, and orthodontics. Many people confuse dentists and orthodontists. Here is a distinction between dentists and orthodontists to help you choose the most suitable dental practice for your situation.

Orthodontist Versus Dentist Training

Although orthodontists and dentists go through the same level of training, orthodontists attend further studies after completing dental school. Dentists have to go through four years of undergraduate education and dental school. Afterward, they have to pass a written exam and licensing test before they can start practicing.

A dentist can choose to work as a general dentist to specialize in a dental field, such as orthodontics. Training in orthodontics is more advanced and involves a specific focus. The education includes a 2-3-year residency.

Dentist Versus Orthodontist Treatments 

Dentists are mainly involved in diagnosing and treating oral health conditions of the teeth, gums, and mouth. They also perform dental cleanings. Some operations performed by a dentist include dental x-rays, filling cavities, bonding teeth, repairing cracked teeth, and extracting teeth. Dentists also treat gum disease, install crowns, and conduct oral surgery.

On the other hand, orthodontists deal with tooth and jaw alignments. These specialists are trained to ensure your teeth and jaw are properly set. An orthodontist's operations include diagnosing and treating malocclusion, teeth straightening surgery, installing dental appliances like retainers, braces, headgear, and palatal expanders.

When to See a Dentist and When to See an Orthodontist

Some people are often confused about when they should see a dentist and when to seek orthodontic care. To make the right decision, you should identify your condition or symptoms. Sometimes a dentist may refer you to an orthodontist if your condition is beyond their expertise. 

You need to see a dentist if you are concerned about the health of your teeth and gums. If you are suffering from tooth decay, cavities, or gum disease, consult your dentist. Additionally, if you want to learn how to maintain general oral health and prevent dental issues, a dentist will advise you accordingly.

On the other hand, consult an orthodontist if you have crooked, overcrowded, or misaligned teeth. These professionals also treat under and overbites. You should also consult an orthodontist if you have difficulty chewing food or speaking. An orthodontist will examine the alignment of your teeth and provide the best course of action.

For more information on general dentistry work, contact your local dental business near you.