What's the Difference Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist?

What's the Difference Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist?

Orthodontists and dentists are medical practitioners who specialize in administering oral health care. They have the necessary training to diagnose gum, tongue, teeth, and mouth conditions and treat them. Read on to understand the difference between the two to know whom you need.


Who Is an Orthodontist?

An orthodontist specializes in improving dental defects, such as underbites and overcrowded teeth. They determine solutions by examining your bite.

Most orthodontic problems, such as misaligned or crooked teeth, are not just unappealing. They lead to severe issues, such as a locked jaw, bone destruction, headaches, and speech impediments.


Responsibilities of an Orthodontist

The following are what an orthodontist does:

  • Supervises the development of bite and jawline in children.

  • Diagnoses and treats misaligned jaws and teeth.

  • Develops treatment plans that entail retainers and braces.

  • Performs teeth straightening surgical procedures.

  • Fits dental appliances like braces, orthodontic headgear, and palatal expanders.



Who Is a Dentist?


Most people have visited a dentist at a point in their lives. You may have gone for professional cleaning or your general dental checkup to ensure your dental health is at its best. Dentistry focuses on teeth, jaw, mouth, and gum health.

A dentist treats different oral health diseases and issues, including gum diseases, tooth decay, and cavities. Most people see their dentists at least twice every year to ensure optimal dental health.


Responsibilities of a Dentist

Below are what a dentist does:


  • Fills cavities

  • Repairs cracked teeth

  • Does and interprets dental X-rays

  • Extracts teeth

  • Promotes oral hygiene and health

  • Fills teeth

  • Bonds teeth

  • Treats gum diseases

  • Prescribes treatment for oral health problems

  • Installs veneers or crowns

  • Performs oral surgery

  • Whitens teeth

  • Oversees how your child’s teeth develop.


Training and Qualifications of an Orthodontist Versus a Dentist

Orthodontists and dentists mostly get similar education. However, an orthodontist must get additional certification before venturing into the practice. Typically, an orthodontist pursues a pre-medical or pre-dentistry before proceeding to dentistry school.

After finishing dental school and completing the certification test, they still have more things left to do. They must attend a residency program for orthodontists for an additional two to three years. Doing so gives them a certificate for specializing in orthodontics.

Dentists also typically take a pre-medical or pre-dentistry degree. They do so before proceeding to a graduate school of dentistry. They ought to have extensive training in their practice like all doctors. The first two years get spent in the lab and classroom. In the last two dental school years, they will work with patients while supervised by a licensed dental school.

After school completion, all dentists take the National Dental Examination. After passing, they become licensed dentists.


Who Should You See?

An orthodontist is a specialist, while a dentist is a general practitioner. Your dentist can diagnose and treat tooth pain, repair, decay, and tooth extraction. They also treat oral infections, inflammations, and gum disease. Your dentist can refer you to see an orthodontist for some cases. You may need their specialty for problems such as palate expansion, jaw malocclusion, and tooth crowding.

It is also essential that children below seven get assessed by an orthodontist to check if they need braces. Adults can also go straight to an orthodontist instead of seeing a dentist first if they need their teeth or jawline straightened.

For more about dentists and orthodontists, visit Progressive Dental & Associates at our office in Matteson, Illinois. You can call 708-980-0110 to book an appointment today.