Dentists and Orthodontists both help patients improve their oral health, but in different manners. Dentistry is a huge medical specialty that deals with the teeth, nerves, gum and jaw; on the other hand, orthodontics is a specialty within dentistry that focuses on the straightness of teeth, correcting bites and occlusion. Whether you have minor oral issues or need a major overhaul of your mouth, your oral health should not be taken lightly because your mouth is the gateway to your overall health. To be healthy your body needs nutritious foods, and to eat healthy foods you need your teeth! Good for you, for seriously digging in to determine whether a dentist vs orthodontist is the specialist you need.
Dentist Vs. Orthodontist: Doing the Educational Background Check
At first, a dentist vs orthodontist will have the same educational backgrounds. An orthodontist and a dentist both are required to get an advanced degree in order to be able to practice. They must pass a certification exam that proves that they have the knowledge and the skills to work with their patient’s teeth. They both have to get a bachelor’s degree and then apply for dental school. Then they must complete a four-year doctoral program at dental school. After completing their graduation, a general dentist may begin to practice dentistry. A Dentist will get either a D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or D.M.D. (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree. Both of these degrees require the same curriculum, but dental schools will call them one or the other.
After graduation, dentists have to serve a two, or three-year residency in orthodontics at an American Dental Association approved university-affiliated program to be an orthodontist. An orthodontist is certified by the American Board of Orthodontics which is the only orthodontic specialty board recognized by the American Dental Association. The orthodontists will typically tag their names with D.D.S. or D.M.D., and “M.S.”, for Master of Science.
So, if you compare the educational backgrounds of a dentist vs orthodontist, they both need extensive schooling before practicing. A dentist must complete 8 years of higher education on the other hand an orthodontist has to spend 10 or 11 years in education to specialize.
What Do Dentists Do?
Dentists are responsible to check and treat the overall oral health of a patient. Regular dental check-up, spotting and treating cavities, treating mild gum disease, addressing oral health and hygiene problems is what a dentist normally does. Apart from these, a dentist can perform tooth extraction, apply bonding, veneers and crowns to the broken, chipped or severely decayed teeth. They also provide advice on maintaining your oral health and if there is something a dentist is not qualified to treat, you will be referred to a dental specialist or physician.
What Do Orthodontists Do?
All orthodontists are first dentists but with some specialized education and skills, they become orthodontists. Orthodontists usually specialize in jaw alignment and teeth movement. Which means orthodontists offer treatments for crowded teeth, spaced teeth, teeth that stick out and jaws that don’t align properly.
They usually perform these treatments with the help of different dental tools such as traditional braces, lingual braces and clear aligners, among other orthodontic appliances. Because every patient has a unique mouth structure and alignment is different, orthodontists use x-rays and photographs of teeth to create individualized treatment plans.
Who Do You Need for Your Oral Issue: A Dentist Vs. Orthodontist?
Having read the comparison of educational background of a dentist vs orthodontist, now you must be able to know that they both must have an extensive educational background before they start practicing their profession and you also know that orthodontists are more specialized with higher education. But the question is that how can you know that which one you need for your dental issue?
A dentist is a primary oral care provider. They will diagnose, treat and manage your overall oral health care including performing routine dental work like check-ups, cleanings, and X-rays. A dentist also removes and repairs your teeth, fill cavities and make models for dentures. At a dentist’s office there are several dental hygienists to take care of your X-rays and cleaning while helping the dentist with other tasks as needed.
Some of the dentists complete their additional coursework and offer complete orthodontic treatment. But more often, if you need such treatments or procedures that are outside the scope of expertise of the dentist they will refer you to a specialist orthodontist.
Dental Treatments that a general dentist offers are listed below:
- Teeth Cleaning
- Gum care
- Root canals
- Teeth whitening
If you need your teeth and jaw aligned, you have to visit an orthodontist. An orthodontist is a specialist in the alignment of your teeth and jaws using non-surgical procedures. The treatments provided by an orthodontist are usually intended to diagnose. They treat what is called a malocclusion or bad bites. Your oral issues such as underbite, overbite, teeth that are crowded, or gaps between your teeth are treated by an orthodontist. If you have an orthodontic problem, Invisalign, retainers and braces are usually your options for treatment and these are only available from a skilled orthodontist. At your initial consultation at Orthodontic Experts, our experienced and specialized orthodontists will determine which treatment will straighten your teeth and retrain your mouth muscles best.
Orthodontic Treatments that are offered by a specialist orthodontist are listed below:
- Other corrective appliances
Some dental care providers have both dentists and orthodontists at the same office offering both services. But some orthodontists like orthodontic experts work in separate offices from dentists providing specialized treatment and taking good care of your teeth in more convenient, comfortable and reliable manners.
It’s Important to Maintain Healthy Oral Care
Of course, it’s really important to take care of your oral hygiene because by taking care of your teeth, you will look better, with a cleaner and brighter smile. But more importantly, with clean teeth and maintained oral hygiene you will keep your natural teeth longer by avoiding tooth decay, periodontal disease and other mouth diseases. Sometimes your oral health issues can lead to even bigger problems like obesity, malnutrition and even heart disease.
Always remember that just one bad tooth can start a domino effect in your mouth. Left untreated, a bad tooth can result in infection, loss of jawbone and movement of your other teeth. It’s great idea to treat one tooth now than to treat several teeth later.
So, be proactive and get preventive check-ups with your dentist regularly to avoid any dental issues. If a toothache or other issue crops up in your mouth, schedule an appointment immediately instead of waiting for your next 6-month check-up to come around. And if you have a bad bite, don’t let it get worse. Call orthodontic experts now for a free consultation to see what treatment is best for you.
Will One Cost More Than The Other?
There is a common belief that orthodontists are more expensive than dentists because they are specialists in their field but the reality is a bit different. There is not a huge price difference when visiting either an orthodontist or a dentist. In fact the treatments might be cheaper at the orthodontic office because they have equipment, materials and facilities at hand all the time.
Are the End Results the Same?
Sometimes, the results of treatment are not the same as expected and an orthodontist is usually more skilful and expert in handling such critical issues. A dentist usually doesn’t have expertise in such cases, however they can try to fix the issue through trial-and-error, leave it as it is, or refer their patient to a board-eligible orthodontist.
Switch to a Brighter Smile with Orthodontic Experts
Currently, at Orthodontic Experts, we are accepting new patients. Take advantage of our experienced and specialist orthodontist at any of our conveniently located offices in Chicago, Arlington Heights, Algonquin, Burbank, Harwood Heights, Avondale, Bucktown, Pilsen, Rockford, DeKalb, Homewood, Mundelein, Hillside, and other cities in Illinois to better serve you!