If you need dental treatment you may wonder what the difference is between a dentist and an orthodontist. While you may know that it’s usually an orthodontist that fits braces, the difference is more far-reaching than that. An orthodontist works in the area of straightening teeth and aligning the jaw, but he has had three more years of training than a dentist.
While both have undergone the same 5 year full time university course in dentistry, the orthodontist has undergone a further three years of full time training to achieve the knowledge and expertise that makes him or her an orthodontist. Generally speaking, anyone working as an orthodontist does not fix decays, extract teeth or do general dental work, even though they do know how, having had to work as a dentist for two years before taking on the further training needed for orthodontics.
Their speciality is to diagnose and treat teeth and jaw alignment issues, the movement of teeth and issues with the bite. They assess the overall facial profile as part of their diagnosis to ensure the treatment they give is the right one for each person. Thus they work to ensure people have the straightest teeth possible using braces or other means to achieve this goal.
Why is this important? If you have crooked teeth, or teeth that may not be crooked but are misaligned, it will usually lead to excessive wear and tear on the teeth and even digestive problems if you can’t chew properly. It also increases the incidence of decay, since crooked teeth are much harder to clean properly.
By having your teeth straightened with a brace, you can look forward to many years of good dental hygiene and use from your teeth. You’ll have a more attractive smile and better self confidence as a result. This will improve both your social and work life.
A jaw that is misaligned can also cause jaw pain, neck pain and headaches, so having your jaw aligned properly by getting crooked teeth straightened is a great way to ensure you have better overall health all your life.
These days there is plenty of new technology in the dental field, so some dentists can fit braces where needed, or they can oversee the tightening of them in between visits to the orthodontist. However, they are not trained as an orthodontist so most will refer you to one initially, if they think your case is not straightforward enough for them to do.
However, you can consult with an orthodontist yourself without any need for a referral, like you would need for a visit to a specialist doctor. Consulting with an orthodontist is a good way to ensure you get the right treatment for your specific problem.