There are many similarities between dentists and orthodontists, so it’s not surprising that many people think they do the same thing. They both have degrees in dentistry, have offices with chairs that tip back, and work on your teeth. However, there are differences as well, which is why it is important to your smile to see both as needed.
Orthodontists Have Extra Training
Technically, every orthodontist is a dentist, because they take the same classes and earn the same degree as dentists. However, orthodontists go through an additional two to three years of education to receive their license to practice orthodontics. As a result, most orthodontists don’t offer routine cleanings or treat cavities, they focus entirely on correcting overbites, underbites and crossbites as well as ensuring your teeth are aligned properly and spaces are closed.
Just like orthodontists specialize in the alignment of your teeth and jaws, most dentists specialize in keeping your teeth, gums, jaws and mouth healthy. They can treat gum disease and tooth decay while teaching you how to avoid both. It is important to go to the dentist every six months for a check-up and cleaning so your teeth and gums stay strong and healthy.
Some Dentists Offer Orthodontic Treatment
There are continuing education classes and seminars dentists can take that allow them to offer some orthodontic treatments, such as Invisalign or braces. So, wouldn’t it make sense and be more convenient to go to a dentist that offers both? Yes, it would probably be more convenient, but the fact is most dentists that do orthodontic work don’t have as much knowledge or experience in the field as an actual orthodontist who has the additional training.
Here is another way to look at it. Say you have a leak in your roof. You have talked to two different people about fixing it – a general contractor and a roofer. Both have been recommended to you and are known to do good work. Who would you choose to fix your roof? The roofer of course, because he specializes in what you really need, and he or she repairs and replaces roofs on a daily basis.
The same goes for having your teeth taken care of. You wouldn’t ask your orthodontist to fill a cavity for you, even though he knows how to do it, because that isn’t his area of expertise. So, don’t go to your dentist for braces or other orthodontic treatment.
Even Most Dentists Recommend Their Patients to Orthodontists
The fact that the majority of dentists refer patients with crowding or crooked teeth to orthodontists should tell you that seeing an orthodontist for those types of issues makes the most sense. This doesn’t mean what dentists do is easier or less important – what they do is incredibly important to your oral health – they just specialize in dentistry, not orthodontics.
If you are considering having orthodontic work done by your dentist because it seems more convenient or you don’t know where else to go, give us a call first at (843) 4-BRACES. You’ll be glad you did.