Experts agree that you should see your dentist twice a year for check-ups and cleanings, but it is more difficult to decide how often you should see your orthodontist. It is helpful to know what services each of these dental professionals have to offer.
Orthodontists are generally used for spacing and alignment issues, while dentists generally specialise in cleanings and cavity treatments.
Here is your comprehensive guide on the differences between these two dentists and orthodontists, and how to know when you should make an appointment with each.
Dentist vs Orthodontist Training
Dentists and orthodontists undergo the same training initially, with 4 years of undergraduate education followed by another 4 years of dental school. They are then required to pass a series of exams to qualify as a licensed dentist.
One of these exams is a written exam and the other is a clinical licensing exam, and without the two, they are unable to practice as a dentist.
While those who are only planning to become dentists stop there, aspiring orthodontists have another 2-3 years of residency and over 4,000 hours of training.
Generally, only around 3% of those who go to dental school make the decision to go to through the extra training to become orthodontists.
Dentists are qualified to look out for your overall oral health. This means that they deal with nearly all of the basics in dental health.
Through dental check-ups, dentists can identify and treat:
- Mild gum disease
- Other oral hygiene issues
Overall, they can improve the appearance and function of the teeth through:
If a dentist comes across a problem that they are not able to fix, they will recommend you to a specialist that will be able to help you.
Orthodontist generally specialise in moving the teeth and jaw to create alignment for both function and appearance. They deal with overcrowding and jaws that suffer from misalignment.
To do these things, they have many tools, including traditional braces, lingual braces, and clear aligners.
Orthodontists also have access to X-rays that they use to their advantage to create individualised alignment plans, because each patient has a unique alignment problem.
When to See an Orthodontist vs Dentist
While many dentists may advertise that they offer braces within their dental office, they are required to undergo the extensive orthodontal training that is required to service braces. In some cases, there may be some overlap in the services offered by dentists and orthodontists.
All in all, though, when it comes to regular cleanings, cavity fills, and tooth ache treatments, your basic dentist is the better choice. If it comes to crooked teeth or alignment issues, however, they will always recommend you to a specialist like an orthodontist for further treatment.
If you find that you are having aches in your teeth caused by cavities, don’t be afraid to reach out to your general dental practitioner for relief.
And if you are tired of your crooked or spaced out teeth that cause your bite to be misaligned and painful, visit your orthodontist so that they can find out a specialised plan to get your teeth lined up and cosmetically appealing.
When it comes to any kind of oral health, it is sometimes the best option to see a dentist first, as they generally have the ability to identify the specialist that you need to see to take care of a problem.
Otherwise, you are left guessing which dental professional that you should make an appointment with. Not only can they tell you what kind of doctor you need to see, but they can also recommend the best one in your area, as dentists usually have knowledge of the other oral health professionals in town.