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Orthodontist vs. Dentist

Receiving quality dental care is an essential part to maintaining your overall health and well-being. When it comes to choosing the right specialist to treat a specific oral issue, there are many differences between an orthodontist and a dentist. It is true that both professions focus on improving oral health; however, the methods and services related to the treatment can vary. Understanding the differences between an orthodontist and a dentist can help you make an easier and informed decision in finding the correct specialist for your dental needs.

What is The Difference?

Dentistry is a medical specialty that deals with the health of the teeth, gums, mouth, and jaw. Those who successfully complete an accredited dental school curriculum and earn a dental degree can become a licensed dentist. A dentist is a healthcare practitioner who specializes in treating and diagnosing oral diseases such as cavities, tooth decay, and gingivitis. In addition, dentists are able to perform various surgical procedures if necessary. The most popular of these are root canals.

An orthodontist is a licensed dentist who specializes in treating misaligned teeth and improving bites with fitted orthodontic appliances such as braces or Invisalign®. In order to become an orthodontist, a dentist will need to complete at least two additional years of dental school in the field of orthodontics. Without proper orthodontic treatment, it can lead to serious problems such as lockjaw, speech impediments, and headaches.

Choosing The Right Specialist

To simplify the difference between these two professions: all orthodontists are qualified dentists, but not all dentists are qualified orthodontists. Depending on the oral needs of a patient, it is likely that a visit to the orthodontist will be more beneficial than a visit to the dentist or vice versa. If you are unsure which specialist to schedule an appointment with, here are a list of common problems that both professions are experienced to treat:

Dentists focus on good oral hygiene and provide services related to:

  • Tooth decay and gum disease
  • Root canals
  • Crowns, bridges, and veneers
  • Teeth whitening

Orthodontists focus on teeth alignment and provide services related to:

  • Misaligned teeth
  • Crowded and spaced teeth
  • Overbites and underbites
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