orthodontist vs general dentist

Whether we shudder at the thought of having to get work done on our teeth or not, we can’t deny the importance of the work done by both dentists and orthodontists. 

But knowing which one we need to see can be a cause of confusion, especially as there is some overlap regarding the work that they do. One thing is clear, all Orthodontists are dentists but not all dentists are orthodontists. But what makes the difference? 

Leave it up to us to make things clear, as we size them up against each other, orthodontist vs general dentist, to leave you in no doubt about who to see when. 

Formal Training 

The start of a general dentist and an orthodontist career is the same. It begins with 4 years at Dental School which will usually be split into 2 years of science-based studies such as anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, and more.  

The next 2 years will be practice with the students spending time in dental clinics gaining experience in the real world with real patients.

Once the 4 years are completed and they pass the challenging written and clinical licensing examinations they receive certification becoming either a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). The qualification is the same and just depends on the school’s terminology.  

In many states, general dentists can start to practice at this point. It is during these 4 years however that those who wish to specialize in orthodontics begin to have a leaning towards this field of dentistry if they didn’t have it clear beforehand.

The budding orthodontists then will study for a further 2-3 years in a residency program with a more specific focus. 

The Work of a General Dentist 

Have you ever felt uncomfortable as the dentist quizzes you about your brushing habits and oral care?

They do this because the main concern of a dentist is your oral hygiene.

They deal with primary care taking care of anything from the typical filings, cleanses, and crowns to the more complex procedures such as root canals and tooth removal. 

A skilled dentist will also be concerned and look out for any diseases and even oral cancer and use things such as x-rays but also their trained eyes to look out for anything unusual. 

What Does an Orthodontist Do?

An orthodontist specializes in malocclusion which literally translates from Latin as “bad bite”. This means that anything regarding the structure of your teeth, jaw, and neck would be best served by an orthodontist. 

The list of common cases that an orthodontist would see includes protruding and crowded teeth, misaligned jaws, and gaps between teeth. 

Once seen by an orthodontist you will be put on a treatment plan which could include braces and retainers or more invasive surgery.

Orthodontist vs General Dentist: Which One Do I Need? 

So if it’s orthodontist vs general dentist which do you go for? Well if you are experiencing a toothache or have a cavity then you will need to visit a general dentist. They are responsible for your day-to-day care therefore you should visit them regularly. 

On the other hand, you have more structural issues with your teeth then your first port of call should be your orthodontist.  A visit to the orthodontist is usually for a specific period of time which hopefully should see some great results at the end of it.

For more information about healthcare please check out the other great posts on this blog. 

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