What’s the Difference Between an Orthodontist and Dentist?

If you’re experiencing discomfort with your teeth and are worried about your oral health then you may be thinking about taking a trip to the dentist. While a dentist can fix most issues affecting your oral health, you may have to be referred to an orthodontist.

While dentists and orthodontists are both focused on promoting healthy teeth and smiles, they generally offer very different treatments. Orthodontists have licenses in dentistry, but not all dentists are necessarily licensed in orthodontics. Understanding the differences between these two professions can save you an unnecessary trip to either and leave you better informed of treatment options that can correct any issues you’re having.

What Areas Do Dentists and Orthodontists Differ?

Dentists are more concerned with oral health issues relating to general oral hygiene. Most patients go to the dentist’s office for teeth cleaning, to repair a cavity, or even get a root canal. Common dental treatments include:

  • Cleanings
  • Root canals
  • Flossing
  • Crowns
  • Bridges
  • Teeth whitening
  • Fluoride

A dental checkup usually serves a great setting to diagnose problems that may require a visit to the orthodontist.

Orthodontists generally don’t offer these same services, although an orthodontist may also decide to combine both practices to provide a more comprehensive service set. Principally, patients visit the orthodontist to fix issues related to tooth alignment. Most commonly, patients will go to the orthodontist to receive:

  • Braces
  • Wires
  • Retainers
  • Invisalign

Additionally, interceptive orthodontics is a new field that can also fix many of these issues before all the adult teeth have erupted, which we will discuss below.

If you’re experiencing discomfort with your teeth, but don’t know the issue, then it’s best to go to a dentist to provide a diagnosis.

When Should I Go to an Orthodontist?

If you are experiencing discomfort in your mouth or jaw relating to misalignment or temporomandibular disorder, you should visit an orthodontist. Generally, a dentist will refer you to an orthodontist, although you’re free to schedule an appointment on your own. This includes issues, such as:

  • Overcrowding of teeth
  • Overbites
  • Underbites

An orthodontist can work to come up with a customized solution that straightens your teeth and does not result in too much discomfort.

While most treatments of TMJ are preventative, your orthodontist may be able to provide consultation to identify any treatment options and causes.

Patients can go to either a dentist or orthodontist for a dental emergency, including broken teeth, jaw pain, or toothache.

What Treatments Do Orthodontists Offer?

Orthodontists work with the latest technology to come up with treatments that can save you money and much daily discomfort. Some of the more traditional treatments options include braces and retainers. These are designed to straighten teeth so that further issues do not occur through aging.

New technology also offers different choices for adults and people who are not comfortable wearing braces or require different treatment. For example, AcceleDent is a vibrating device that can help straighten misaligned teeth with only 20 minutes a night of treatment. Treatments like this are both cost-effective and offer greater convenience.

Carriere is a small bracket designed to fix issues with patient bite and is virtually invisible from the inside of the mouth.

Furthermore, Clarity Brackets is a new innovation of traditional brackets. These translucent brackets are more comfortable than traditional brackets and proven to be even more effective.

Invisalign is also very similar to Clarity Brackets, offering a replacement for traditional braces using a translucent material that helps straighten teeth and fix bite patterns.

These are just some examples of technologies that are cheaper than traditional orthopedic and dentistry treatment and can help ease discomfort among patients.

What is Interceptive Orthodontics?

One more innovation that orthodontists can offer is interceptive orthodontics. Essentially, interceptive orthodontics is designed to fix issues in children before they occur. While most orthodontic treatment is not attempted teeth have erupted around the age of 14, interceptive orthodontics is utilized around the ages of 7-11 if a problem is likely to occur.

Interceptive orthodontics can save children the pain of having to get teeth extracted and having to wear braces at a later age in puberty. Treatment options include growth apparatuses to give teeth more room to grow in, as well as provide the jaw with greater flexibility. These techniques can not only save on tooth extraction, but it can also make orthodontic treatment years down the road much, much easier.

At QMA orthodontics e offer dental, orthodontic, and interceptive orthodontic treatments to provide all patients with 360-degree care. Unlike other dental practices, we host all of our procedures in-house so that you can receive orthodontic treatment from a dental professional you trust.