Orthodontist vs Dentist: What is the Difference?


Orthodontist vs Dentist. Aren’t they one in the same?  Although both are doctors focused on oral health and equally important in one’s dental health regime, they are more different that you might think!


After four years of dental school, general dentists are experts on oral hygiene, gum disease, tooth decay, crowns, root canals and so on. Orthodontists, on the other hand, complete four years of dental school with general dentists, then go on to master an additional two to three years of schooling specific to orthodontics. There they perfect their knowledge on issues such as overbites and underbites, crossbites, overcrowding of teeth, spaces between teeth, and the treatment of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD). TMDs are problems surrounding the muscles that control the jaw.


What exactly does an orthodontist do?

When we think of orthodontics, an image of a preteen smiling in braces immediately comes to mind. But an orthodontist deals with more than just the straightening of teeth and treats patients of all ages! One of an orthodontist’s biggest objectives is actually perfecting the “bite”, or how the teeth come together and jaws line up. When there are issues with the bite, overlapping teeth become tough to clean, and there often are problems chewing as well as an increased amount of wear, grinding, and clenching of the teeth. Crooked or crowded teeth, as well as overbites and underbites, can lead to serious oral health issues. Some of these issues may include tooth decay, gum disease, or even worse, tooth loss–yikes–all which then become your dentist’s problem to fix!


What if my dentist offers to do my orthodontic work?

Although some dental practices do provide minimal orthodontic work, unless there are true orthodontists on site, you should leave most orthodontic cases to a specialist. Just as you wouldn’t use your general practitioner for brain surgery, you really shouldn’t leave true orthodontic issues up to your general dentist. Your general dentist may be a great place to start for an orthodontic referral. After that, be sure to also check out that orthodontist’s credentials and follow up with referrals from former/current patients and online.


Orthodontist vs dentist?  Hopefully now you have a better understanding of the difference! Want to learn more about what orthodontists are focused on and what services are offered? We encourage you to stay connected with Goldberg Orthodontics through our blog, via Facebook and Twitter, or by reaching out with any questions or concerns you may have
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