Difference Between an Orthodontist and A Dentist

Here at Seabreeze Orthodontics, we’re dedicated to helping you discover your smile, and that means more than just in the office! That’s why Dr. Juan and the team are dedicated to providing you with the answers to questions like ‘What’s the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?” It turns out a whole lot! Read on to learn more. 

Different Skills for Different Jobs

Orthodontists and dentists are both important healthcare professionals, but they have distinct roles when it comes to oral health.

Dentists are your primary oral healthcare providers. They are the professionals you visit for routine check-ups, cleanings, and general dental care. Their training is broad and covers a wide range of dental issues, from cavities to gum disease. Dentists are the ones who ensure your teeth and gums are healthy through regular examinations, cleanings, and various treatments.

Orthodontists like Dr. Juan, on the other hand, are specialists in aligning teeth and jaws. They receive additional training beyond dental school to become experts in correcting misalignments, overbites, underbites, and other orthodontic issues. They focus on the alignment and positioning of your teeth to enhance your smile’s function and look. Orthodontists use various appliances, such as braces and aligners, to achieve these goals.

Education and Training

The path to becoming a dentist and an orthodontist involves distinct educational and training requirements.

To become a dentist, one typically completes four years of undergraduate education followed by four years of dental school. After graduation, they may pursue further training in a specialized field, but general dentists can provide a wide range of dental services. Their extensive education equips them with the knowledge and skills to address common dental concerns comprehensively.

Orthodontists follow a longer educational path. After completing dental school, they must undertake an additional two to three years of specialized orthodontic training. This extra training equips them with the skills and expertise needed to diagnose and treat complex alignment issues effectively. They study advanced techniques in orthodontics, including the use of braces, aligners, and other specialized tools to correct dental misalignments.

Scope of Practice

Dentists and orthodontists differ not only in their education but also in the scope of services they offer.

Dentists provide a comprehensive range of services, including dental cleanings, fillings and restorations, gum disease treatment, tooth extractions, root canals, and cosmetic dentistry procedures. They are your first line of defense for maintaining good oral health and addressing common dental issues.

Orthodontists, on the other hand, specialize in orthodontic services such as braces and aligners to straighten teeth, bite correction, treatment of TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) disorders, and surgical orthodontics (in collaboration with oral surgeons). Their focus is on ensuring that your teeth are properly aligned and that your bite functions correctly. They work to improve the overall appearance and function of your smile.

Difference Between an Orthodontics and A Dentist

When to See Each Professional

Knowing when to see a dentist and when to consult an orthodontist is essential for your oral health.

Visit your dentist for regular check-ups (usually every six months), dental cleanings, and general dental problems. Dentists can detect and treat issues like cavities, gum disease, and oral infections. They provide preventive care to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Consult an orthodontist for specific orthodontic concerns, including crooked teeth, bite issues (overbites, underbites), misaligned jaws, and orthodontic treatment options. Orthodontists specialize in diagnosing and treating these issues to improve your smile’s aesthetics and functionality. They offer solutions such as braces or aligners tailored to your unique needs.

What to Take Away

While both dentists and orthodontists play crucial roles in maintaining your oral health, they have distinct areas of expertise. Dentists are your go-to professionals for general dental care, while orthodontists specialize in straightening teeth and correcting bite issues. Knowing when to see each professional ensures that you receive the right care for your specific dental needs.

Difference Between an Orthodontics and A Dentist

More Questions? Give Us a Call! 

Thanks so much for reading up on the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist! Seabreeze Orthodontics is proud to be Myrtle Beach’s one-stop smile shop, and that means we’re here for you, whatever you need! Consultations are always free, and the smile of a lifetime is right around the corner. We can’t wait to see you smile!