How Are Orthodontists Different From Dentists?

You may think that orthodontists and dentists are the same thing, but in reality, they can do different things for your teeth. While both orthodontists and dentists specialize in teeth and gums, they look at your teeth differently. Here are some ways orthodontists differ from dentists.

Orthodontists Have Specialized Training

While orthodontists and dentists both go to dental school and receive the same basic education in teeth, gums, and jaws, orthodontists have additional training. Orthodontists specialize in fixing bite and chewing issues with your teeth and jaws that happen when they are out of their normal position. Orthodontists can attend dental school for an additional two or three years beyond regular dental training.

Dentists Refer Patients To Orthodontists

Think of dentists much like general practitioners in the medical field. You visit your dentist for regular tooth cleanings, cancer screenings, and checkups. Dentists can fix cavities, rid your mouth of infection, and treat canker sores. If you are having issues with crooked teeth, or your bite isn’t correct, your dentist will refer you to a specialist–which is an orthodontist. The orthodontist will take a look at your teeth, take X-rays, and recommend a course of treatment.

Many dentists will refer children to orthodontists starting around age seven. You may also get a referral from your dentist to an orthodontist as an adult.

Orthodontists and Dentists Are Important

While orthodontists and dentists differ in their education and training, they are both focused on making sure your mouth is as healthy as possible. Dentists will check you for tooth decay and gum disease, which can impact not only your oral health but your physical health as well. Orthodontists are concerned about the position of your teeth and jaws, which can lead to continuing pain and problems long term. You can use both dentists and orthodontists to make sure your teeth and gums are as healthy as possible.