Almost everyone notices a perfect set of teeth and a great smile when they see one. An orthodontist and a dentist are both professionals in their field responsible for making sure every patient has a healthy mouth. However, it’s important to note that there are subtle differences between the two professions.
One of the most important distinctions you can make between the two is that all orthodontists are dental practitioners but not vice versa. In general terms, dental practitioners are highly trained experts concerned with the health and quality of your smile. On the other hand, orthodontists go the extra mile to help correct crooked teeth and jaw misalignments.
Knowing the difference between the two is important. In most instances, you will probably see a dentist first. If the work that needs to be done is something they cannot do right in the office, they’ll most likely send you to a specialist, like an orthodontist.
What are the Roles of Dentists?
It’s recommended that you visit your local dentist every six months. Dentists handle your basic examinations to ensure your dental health is in tip-top shape. These visits are often routine and give an overall view of how your mouth is doing. Dentists don’t just look at the teeth but also the gums, and you can expect an x-ray of your mouth to spot cavities that are hiding out of sight. After everything is checked out, you will receive a cleaning and be sent on your way if there’s no sign of major infection or cavities to worry about.
Overall, they specialize in diagnosing, treating, and preventing several dental issues and carrying out periodic cleaning and imaging when needed.
Peculiarities of Dental Education
Becoming a dentist requires many years of patience and sacrifice. You must enroll in an undergraduate program, proceed from there to a four-year medical school program, and thereafter be validated through licensing exams. The successful completion of your licensing exam certifies you to practice as a dentist.
Dentists do more than the maintenance of good oral health. They also offer preventive solutions that preserve the patient’s smile. Dentists are trained to use imaging instruments like X-rays to look at fractures and dislocations. They are also the medical experts who would treat most oral health ailments such as dental cavities, tooth removal, extractions, and gum disease management.
Some dentists also offer cosmetic solutions that improve the cosmetic appearance of the teeth. Some of these services include teeth whitening, dental implants, and dental bonding.
Even though it is mostly adults who suffer from serious oral health problems, dentists have also mastered the art of working on children’s teeth. This part is especially crucial due to the nature of children’s teeth. Dentists who address kids’ dental needs focus on laying a solid dental foundation for the kids. They take different approaches to educate children on the importance of oral hygiene and health. They also address common problems like dental cavities and oral infections. During a visit to a kids’ dentist, services like routine checkups and appropriate dental intervention may be offered.
What Do Orthodontists Do?
In simple terms, these dental specialists are in charge of helping patients who wish to have a better smile. Patients who suffer common problems like underbites, overbites, crowded teeth, malocclusions, and other orthodontic problems are fit to see an orthodontist. Orthodontists realign improper teeth or jaw arrangements caused by bad chewing habits, jaw dislocation, locked jaw, gum damage, or bone abnormalities.
Educational Background of an Orthodontist
The educational background of orthodontists is similar to other dental practitioners. After becoming a dental practitioner, interested dentists can proceed to an Orthodontist dental institute to undergo further training. After that, a residency program in orthodontics is required. Once this is completed, the orthodontist will be required to pass certain requirements to become board-certified. In essence, to become an orthodontist, one has to undergo several additional years of training compared to a dentist.
General dentists often recommend patients to see an orthodontist when issues beyond their professional knowledge are encountered. You can either proceed straight to an orthodontist or see a general dental practitioner first. You should see an orthodontist if you suffer from overbites, underbites, or crossbites. Other dental problems that require you to see an orthodontist include crowded or scattered teeth. If you wish to get braces, bumpers, maintainers, or expanders installed, you should also see an orthodontist.
Going through the differences between these two highly specialized disciplines, one would notice considerable overlap in roles. Dentists and orthodontists complement each other and are necessary for maintaining overall oral health. For instance, getting braces from an orthodontist requires you to get a dental cleaning from a dentist.