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What is the Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist?



The health of your teeth can have a huge impact on your overall health and well-being. Both dentists and orthodontists provide important care for your teeth, but many don’t understand the differences between the two. While every orthodontist is also a dentist, general dentists are not orthodontists. To be considered an orthodontist requires additional specialized training from an exclusive residency program. This training will last three years, on average, and includes in-depth training in orthodontic techniques, advanced diagnostic procedures, and growth and development of the teeth and jaws. This makes an orthodontist the best person suited for anything involving tooth movement. In other words, the general difference is that dentists are medical professionals that deliver overall care for your teeth, while orthodontists are more specialized, and focused on correcting teeth and jaws that aren’t in the proper position.


There are more complex nuances than that, of course, and determining whether to opt for care from a dentist or orthodontist depends on your needs. Here’s a closer look at the differences between these two important healthcare professions.


What Does an Orthodontist Do?


Orthodontists are specialists, and they do more than just give you a pretty smile. If your teeth are improperly aligned, it can cause a multitude of issues that might not seem like they would be caused by misaligned teeth. This can include speech impediments, chronic headaches, social anxiety, and sleep disruptions.


Most dentists will send patients to an orthodontist for specialized care – particularly when dealing with these alignment issues. When searching for the best orthodontist near you, it’s important to find one that focuses on your overall bite (called the occlusion), not just straightening teeth.


Braces are no longer the only way to correct these issues either thanks to 3D printing and digital technology. It’s also important to remember that issues with jaw alignment should be diagnosed and recognized as early as possible. That’s why it’s important to take children to an orthodontist when they’re young so that the orthodontist can supervise their tooth development and jaw growth.


What Does a Dentist Do?


The general care provided by a dentist can go a long way in recognizing the more serious issues to your oral health. Again, these can impact other things besides just your teeth. Regular maintenance like teeth cleanings are important to make sure everything remains healthy, but also to uncover potential trouble in the form of cavities and other issues. This is the main line of defense and often the most familiar resource to provide good oral health throughout your life.


Just like the orthodontist can provide insight and take proactive measures for proper tooth and jaw alignment, the dentist offers preventative care, as well.

Along with cavities, your dentist can uncover threats to your dental care like tooth decay, gum disease, and even oral cancer. They help provide insight into any of these problem areas, as well as the best practices for everyday life to make sure that you maintain oral health between visits.


Dentists often provide assistance with daily routines, dietary and nutritional considerations, and many other ways to keep your smile bright.


Both dentists and orthodontists are crucial to your oral health and hygiene. It’s important to understand that they often work together to come up with a comprehensive plan to make sure your total oral health is closely monitored. By working with both orthodontists and dentists, you can give yourself the best chance to maintain lifelong oral health. For more information, contact the experts at Bloom Orthodontics today.


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