Your dentist and your orthodontist both work on your teeth. So what is the difference between the two? Only a small percentage of dentists can call themselves an orthodontist. Once dental school is completed some dentists tackle an additional 2-3 year program that specializes in orthodontic work.
Orthodontic work is the ability to diagnose, treat and prevent muscular or bone issues with your face and mouth. They learn skills regarding moving your teeth and fixing facial abnormalities. While a dentist helps you keep your teeth and mouth clean and healthy. An orthodontist helps insure that your teeth are aligned properly for the best comfort and look.
****(This also applies to other professionals such as pediatric dentists (A dentist specialized in dentistry for children)
How are they similar?
The main similarity between a dentist and orthodontist is that they both focus on oral care. An orthodontist can work in a dental office and provide the same care as a dentist, but a dentist does not have the proper schooling to do orthodontic work. They are both considered doctors and work with the teeth and gums but the situation is similar to when doctors obtain additional schooling to become a surgeon. You wouldn’t go to your Primary Care Physician instead of a Surgeon to get your appendix taken out, would you?
How are they different?
Dentists typically encourage good oral hygiene and provide services related to:
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
Orthodontists are dentists that specialize in the alignment of teeth, and provide services related to:
- Misaligned teeth
- Crowded teeth
Orthodontists help with crooked teeth, but they assist patients with other issues as well. These include overbites and underbites, crossbites, spaces between teeth, overcrowding of teeth, and the treatment of temporomandibular disorders (TMD).
Improper tooth alignment can lead to serious dental problems, so seeing a specialist with the correct skills and knowledge is important when choosing to do braces or Invisalign.
The American Dental Association has released the following statement:
The American Dental Association has recognized that Specialists are necessary to protect the public, nurture the art and science of dentistry and improve the quality of care. Specialists are recognized in those areas where advanced knowledge and skills are essential to maintain or restore oral health.The American Dental Association has further stated that a specialty (such as Orthodontics) must be a distinct and well-defined field, which requires unique knowledge and skills beyond those commonly possessed by general practitioners.