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What is the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?
What is the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?

What Is the Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist?

See the Right Expert for Your Smile

It’s important to receive the care you need from the right specialist. Both dentists and orthodontists want to improve your smile and oral health, but they are two different types of dental professionals. The first thing to note about these two types of specialists is that all orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists.

Both professionals must earn a dental degree from dental school. After a dentist completes dental school, he or she can begin practicing general dentistry. After an orthodontist completes dental school, he or she must complete 2–3 additional years of training and education. During this time, an orthodontist learns more about aligning the teeth and jaws and how to manage a variety of patients with simple to complex orthodontic needs.

You should visit your dentist for check-ups every 6 months. Your dentist is often the first person to notice oral health issues and refer you to a specialist for further diagnosing and treatment. If the issues involve impacted teeth, misalignment, bite problems, or preventative measures, your dentist will likely refer you to an orthodontist. You can also see an orthodontist without a referral. It’s recommended that a child visits an orthodontist by the age of 7 to identify any issues and prepare the mouth for adult teeth.

What Does a Dentist Do?

Dentists perform many duties to achieve and maintain good oral health. This includes removing tooth decay, filling cavities, repairing fractured or broken teeth, and sometimes performing tooth extractions. Dentists can identify and treat oral cancer and gum disease. Typically once a year, your dentist will take X-rays of your teeth to assess any problems within your facial structures and soft tissues. Dentists are also trained to manage oral trauma cases and other emergency situations, such as knocked-out teeth.

There are a variety of treatments that dentists offer, ranging from standard cleanings performed during check-ups to cosmetic dental treatments. Many patients undergo cosmetic procedures to whiten their teeth, which can include in-office or at-home teeth whitening treatments, veneers, crowns, and more. Some dentists offer Invisalign®, but they are not trained with teeth alignment to the extent of an orthodontist.

What Does an Orthodontist Do?

Orthodontists evaluate the jaws, teeth, and bite to make sure they are properly aligned. When people think of orthodontics, they often think of braces. However, the impact of orthodontics is much deeper than braces and straightening teeth. Orthodontics can improve the ability to speak, eat, and breathe. Early care during childhood can prevent future oral health issues from developing, such as damage to the teeth and gums, TMJ pain, or obstructive sleep apnea.

Orthodontists are the go-to experts of the dental community when a patient requires specialized care for teeth or jaw misalignment. They use orthodontic appliances to move the teeth and jaws into their correct positions while monitoring progress throughout treatment. Treatment can include braces, Invisalign, palatal expanders, spacers, retainers, and more to give you the smile you desire while improving your overall oral health. Orthodontics can also be combined with oral surgery if a patient requires jaw surgery or treatment for an impacted canine tooth.

Should You See a Dentist or an Orthodontist?

It’s important to know which specialist to see if you require any type of dental treatment. You should see a general dentist if you have a toothache, cavity, broken or damaged tooth, need your teeth cleaned, or are interested in cosmetic dentistry treatment. If you suspect the presence of oral cancer or disease, call your dentist right away for an appointment.

You should see an orthodontist if you have bite problems, chronic headaches that may be caused by misaligned jaws, crooked teeth, gaps between teeth, or simply wish to improve your smile. There are a variety of orthodontic treatments for children, teens, and adults. When you visit Braces Omaha, we will evaluate your smile and determine the right type of treatment to straighten your smile, improve your oral health, and boost your confidence!

Board-Certified Orthodontist in Omaha, NE

Dr. Clarke Stevens is board-certified by the American Association of Orthodontists. This certification holds him to the highest standards of patient care and clinical excellence. In addition to being an orthodontist, Dr. Stevens is also an inventor! He designed and created WildSmiles Braces®, the stylishly exciting way for patients to personalize their braces. Contact Braces Omaha today for a free consultation with Dr. Stevens and to see how our Braces Omaha team can help you achieve a great smile through an incredible orthodontic experience.

A Happier Smile Starts Here

We’re a family-friendly practice that provides optimal orthodontic care in a comfortable, approachable setting. To learn more about your treatment options for yourself or your child, we encourage you to contact Braces Omaha to schedule a complimentary consultation.