The Difference Between a Dentist and An Orthodontist

orthodontistWhen you’re seeking care for your smile, it is important to find the right specialist.

Every profession in healthcare has specific and important skills dedicated to resolving critical issues. No one doctor can address all needs. This is particularly true with Orthodontists and Dentists.

With both Orthodontists and Dentists working to improve patients’ oral health, they focus on separate disciplines and are equipped with different areas of expertise, equipment, and techniques for dealing with oral health issues.

Orthodontics, however, is a narrower specialization within dentistry, requiring an additional two-to-three-year residency in orthodontics in an ADA-approved University program.

Orthodontists are experts who work primarily to align and develop the teeth and jaws to optimize their function and aesthetic qualities. An orthodontist is the expert you should seek out if you have misaligned, crowded, or improperly spaced teeth, or if you suffer from an over or underbite.

A skilled orthodontist can fit you with Invisalign aligners, braces, retainers, or other devices that will straighten your teeth and improve the way they fit together and work.

Orthodontists provide specific orthodontic treatment.

Orthodontists also typically pursue a pre-dentistry or pre-medical major in their undergraduate degree before entering dentistal school.

After completing dental school and taking the certification test, orthodontists attend an orthodontic residency program for an additional 2 to 3 years to get a specialty certification in orthodontics.

This is especially true when it comes to Invisalign treatment, which, like braces, is a complicated orthodontic procedure that should only be done by a qualified orthodontist.


Dentistry Can Be Broad, Orthodontics Is Focused

Dentistry is a broad specialty, dealing with everything from gum care to crowns to root canals. Dentists can fill cavities, fit patients for dentures, and remove, repair, or clean teeth, amongst other things. Every qualified dentist has been through years of school to master their discipline, including a bachelor’s degree and a four-year doctoral program.

A dentist is perfect for general oral health, but don’t believe that they are also an orthodontist. It’s vital that you entrust the alignment of your teeth only to the experts who have been trained for this specific need.


What Does An Orthodontist Do?

Orthodontists are also doctors of oral health. Technically, they’re a kind of dentist with a specialty in tooth and jaw alignment.

Certified orthodontists are trained to diagnose and treat oral health conditions of your teeth, gums, and mouth. But mostly, orthodontists focus on making sure your teeth and jaw are set correctly.

Orthodontists do the following:

  • Supervise facial growth (jawline and bite) in children
  • Diagnose and treat misaligned teeth and jaws (malocclusion)
  • Create a treatment plan that includes braces and retainers
  • Perform teeth straightening surgery
  • Install dental appliances, such as braces, palatal expanders, orthodontic headgear, or Herbst appliances


What Does A Dentist Do?

Dentists are doctors of oral health. Typically, dentists go to college for a pre-dentistry or pre-medical degree before going on to a graduate school of dentistry.

Like all doctors, dentists are required to be extensively trained in their practice before becoming certified. About 80 percent of dentists practice what’s known as general dentistry.

Certified dentists can diagnose and treat oral health conditions of your teeth, gums, tongue, and mouth. They’re also able to clean your teeth, but dental hygienists usually take care of that.

Dentists provide the following care:

  • Conduct and interpret dental X-rays
  • Fill cavities
  • Extract teeth
  • Repair cracked teeth
  • Promote oral health and oral hygiene
  • Fill and bond teeth
  • Treat gum disease, such as gingivitis
  • Prescribe treatment, including prescription drugs, for oral health conditions
  • Whiten teeth
  • Install crowns or veneers
  • Oversee the development of children’s teeth
  • Perform oral surgery

However, these days, some dentists will try to convince you that they’re qualified to deliver full orthodontics services and products. Most people seek specialists and experts in their particular field.

Besides being a licensed orthodontist with over 25 years of experience, Dr. Alexa Alborzi is an Invisalign Diamond Plus Provider, an award given only to the top 1 percent of all Invisalign providers in the country, and she has earned it as a solo practitioner. Contact Alborzi Orthodontics today to set up a consultation and see the difference an experienced orthodontist makes.  Virtual appointments are available for your convenience.