What do a dentist and an orthodontist have in common? They both specialize in dental health. When people think of a dentist and an orthodontist they tend to think of the same two people doing the same exact thing. This is not the case at all. Keep reading to see what makes these two doctors different and to find out which one you may need to see for your next dental appointment.
The Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist:
To truly find the difference between a dentist and orthodontist you need to dig deep into both of their educational background. Yes, their backgrounds may surprise you as well as how long they went to school for. They both have a thorough educational background that includes a bachelor’s degree to start with and a credible dental school. During their dental school, they are required to pursue their doctoral program that lasts four years. The doctoral degree then perceives them as an official doctor.
Once they graduate, they are all set to start practicing dentistry with a doctor of dental surgery or doctor of dental medicine. The terms are the same and mean the same thing, but each college will call them one or the other. Does the educational background stop there? Not for an orthodontist. At this point, the orthodontist must undergo two to three years in a University affiliated program. The program must be approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). Most orthodontists are backed by the American Board of Orthodontics and are certified by the board. After all, it is the one and only board that is recognized by the ADA. Want to check for yourself? The next time you go to a dentist or your orthodontist’s office you may see a certified sign or even a plaque with his or her name on it along with the acronyms D.D.S or D.M.D. If you just so happen to see an M.S. with it that generally means that they also have a master of science to go along with it. To sum up, the educational background, although they both need a great amount of schooling before they can officially practice, a dentist needs 8 years of school after high school and an orthodontist must complete 10 to 11 years to officially become an orthodontist.
So Which Doctor Do You Need?
Now that you know the difference between doctors based off of education alone do you know which doctor to see your dental situation? If you do not currently have any dental issues it is safe to say that the dentist is the one you want to speak with. A dentist is your primary care provider who is responsible for diagnosing issues, providing treatment, and managing your oral health care. The type of work that a typical dentist does include performing routine check-ups, teeth cleanings, taking x-rays, remove or repair teeth, provide fill-ins for cavities and create models for dentures. A dentist usually has a team of a dental hygienist who works closely with them. Sometimes that hygienist will step in and help the dentist out with common, general task such as taking x-rays, teeth cleanings, and any other small tasks at hand. One thing that may surprise you is that there are some dentists who offer orthodontic services. These dentists have completed additional coursework in order to do so. There are some services that a dentist cannot offer you such as the services of a dental specialist. Dental specialists are there for you when you need treatment or a procedure that your dentist alone cannot do such as an area that is out of his or her expertise. An example of a situation where a dentist will refer you to a dental specialist or an orthodontist is if you need certain types of dental work done such as a realignment, bridges, teeth whitening, veneers, crowns, fillings, root canals, and gum disease treatment.
You know that you need an orthodontist when you start to need procedures are done that are out of your dentist’s hands. An orthodontist or dental specialist can align your teeth and jaws in the simplest way by using non-surgical methods. They can also diagnose you, teach you preventative care, and treat malocclusions which are commonly known as a bad bite. A few instances where you will be referred to an orthodontist is in the event that any of these issues are imminent: wires, Invisalign, braces, retainers, and if you need anything corrected. You also have a higher chance of being referred if you are experiencing an overbite, underbite, gaps, or overcrowded teeth. The orthodontist who provides you with care will decide what treatment will help you overcome any dental issues you may have.
Usually, an orthodontist will work separately form a dentist, but it is not rare to see a few dental providers who have both the dentist and orthodontist on site. This method of making both readily available can make any patient feel at ease. It also helps you not to switch health care providers and have to find out more information, visit a new building, etc.