In the realm of oral healthcare, several specialties focus on different aspects of dental care. Dentistry and orthodontics are two of the most commonly sought services among these specialties. While both are geared towards improving oral health, their areas of focus and types of treatment differ substantially. This article delves into the distinguishing factors between dentists and orthodontists to help you understand their roles better.
- Educational Background and Training
While dentists and orthodontists begin their journey in dental school, they take further steps in their education. After dental school, aspiring orthodontists must pursue a competitive orthodontic residency program for 2-3 years. This period of specialization involves intensive training in preventing, diagnosing, and treating orthodontic problems.
On the other hand, dentists may start their practice right after dental school or continue with additional training in dental specialties other than orthodontics, such as endodontics or periodontics. Understanding these differences in education and training is essential when choosing the right oral healthcare professional for your needs.
- Scope of Practice
Dentists provide comprehensive oral healthcare. They diagnose and treat issues affecting the teeth, gums, tongue, and other parts of the mouth. Their services often include fillings, extractions, teeth cleanings, gum disease treatment, root canals, crowns, veneers, bridges, and teeth whitening. Dentists are often the professionals people see for their routine oral health check-ups.
In contrast, orthodontists align the teeth, jaw, and bite. They use appliances like braces, clear aligners, palate expanders, or retainers to correct these issues. Common problems they address include overcrowded or crooked teeth, gaps, overbite, underbite, crossbite, and other misalignments Dr. Cho from Glow Langley.
- When to Visit a Dentist or an Orthodontist
Dentists are typically the first line of defence against oral health problems. They manage your overall oral health and can handle a wide array of dental issues. Regular check-ups are recommended twice a year to maintain good dental health and detect potential problems early.
Orthodontists, on the other hand, are the go-to professionals for issues relating to the alignment of teeth and jaws. If you’re facing issues such as difficulty chewing, speech problems, jaw pain, or simply unhappy with the alignment of your teeth, an orthodontist is best equipped to address these concerns.
- The Importance of Collaboration
While there’s a clear distinction between the roles of dentists and orthodontists, their work often overlaps, and collaboration is essential. For instance, a dentist must often address other dental issues like cavities or gum disease before orthodontic treatment. After orthodontic treatment, the dentist continues regular dental care.
Collaboration ensures a holistic approach to oral healthcare, with each professional contributing their expertise for the patient’s overall well-being. Therefore, dentists and orthodontists are equally important in maintaining good oral health.
While dentists and orthodontists aim to enhance oral health, understanding their differences is critical to seeking appropriate care. Dentists are typically your primary dental care providers, while orthodontists are specialists who correct alignment issues of your teeth and jaws. They provide comprehensive oral healthcare to ensure you maintain your best smile.