What’s The Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist?

2:28 PM, Dec 23, 2020

Dentists and orthodontists both help improve your oral health, so it’s important to visit both when you need them. But how do you know which one to go to for your different health issues?

Basic things to see your orthodontist for:
· Straighten crooked teeth
· Close gaps
· Fix over bite and under bite
· Make teeth fit properly
· Fix cross bite

Basic things to see your dentist for:
· Cleanings
· Fillings
· Extractions
· Replacing missing teeth
· Tooth pain

Teeth and jaw alignment

Like a dentist, an orthodontist can improve your oral health and the look of your teeth.

“An orthodontist is a dentist with two to three years of additional school,” explains Erika Dyer, lead treatment coordinator and marketing manager at SmileLife Orthodontics. “That additional two to three years is solely focused on aligning the teeth for esthetics as well as adjusting the bite for long term function.”

A common treatment usually involves braces or Invisalign. You may want one of these treatments to correct crooked teeth, abnormal spacing between teeth (either too much or too little), an overbite or underbite, or simply to improve the appearance of your smile. Braces and Invisalign both work by putting constant pressure on your teeth until they eventually move in a direction you want — and stay there.

Another important issue is jaw alignment. The orthodontist works with an oral surgeon to prepare the teeth for jaw surgery when correcting severe over bite or under bite. These surgeries can be truly life changing for the patient.

“(Orthodontists) learn, in depth, the capabilities and limitations of tooth movement within the jaws. We want you to have all your teeth when you are 100 years old. For this to happen we must make sure your teeth fit together properly and oh! by the way, they are beautiful” Dyer adds. Once they are straight you must also follow up with regular dental checkups and wear retainers throughout your life.

How dentists and orthodontists work together

You should have a dental exam and cleaning before beginning orthodontic treatment.

“If your dentist knows that you are interested in orthodontics, he or she will coordinate your treatment plan with the orthodontist’s treatment plan for the most functional and esthetic outcome. If possible, wait to get crowns, bridges, implants, veneers, and sometimes even extractions until after your orthodontic exam. During your treatment with an orthodontist, you will still need to see your dentist for regular exams and cleanings,” Dyer says.

For more information about what orthodontic work may be right for you and to schedule a free consultation, visit SmileLifeBraces.com.

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