Dentist vs orthodontist: It’s pretty common to visit your dentist for a regular checkup or routine procedure. In some cases though, you may be asked to visit an orthodontist for a more specialized form of care. Find out here the main distinctions between both types of physicians.


Dentist vs orthodontist: What’s the difference?

#1 Academically speaking, both orthodontists and dentists go to dental school. But while dentists immediately begin practicing after receiving their dental degree, orthodontists need an extra 2-3 years of academic training to specialize in their line of work.

#2 That said, a dentist’s primary role is to diagnose and prevent oral diseases. He/she protects the health of your teeth, gums, and mouth through professional cleaning, treating cavities, and performing dental procedures like root canals, tooth extraction, fillings and, if needed, biopsies. Dentists professionally train to conduct a comprehensive examination of your teeth and gums. They also look for any signs of discoloration, swelling, inflammation or bleeding. Accordingly, they can request screening tests or X-rays to pinpoint any underlying problem and prescribe a treatment plan to help patients restore their oral health.

Orthodontists, on the other hand, train to diagnose and treat cases of teeth misalignment and bite issues. Depending on the patient’s case, they either use invisible aligners or traditional braces to gradually shift teeth back to their correct position and/or treat a crooked bite. This requires a specialized understanding of how teeth close onto each other (occlusion) and how the head, jaw, and mouth develop (craniofacial development).

Orthodontic treatment planning also requires extensive knowledge of how your dental bone structure shifts. Every treatment is highly personalized according to the patient’s goals, the position of teeth, the severity of the case, and the shape of the face and jaw. At BASMA, we use clear aligners to treat mild to moderate cases of teeth crowding and spacing. To do that, we work closely with board-certified orthodontists who design individual treatment plans and monitor patient tooth movement over a period of time via our telehealth platform.

#3 When it comes to pediatric care, a dentist monitors teeth growth and oral health in children and adolescents to help prevent future cavities or diseases. As for orthodontists, their role is to prod bone structure development in the right direction for proper jaw and teeth alignment.


Is one better than the other?

This perceived “competition” between dentist and orthodontist is quite pointless. They’re each trained to excel at different things.

Both professions actually complement each other since many people need both a dentist and an orthodontist to get properly treated. Oftentimes, dentists can refer patients to an orthodontist if they notice any abnormality in their teeth alignment – and vice versa.

Before starting any teeth alignment treatment, orthodontists also need to make sure that a patient’s oral health is in good shape. At BASMA, we always refer our patients to certified partner clinics should they be required to get any dental work done (cleaning, treating cavities, etc.).

Ultimately, it all depends on what you’re looking to treat – but one thing’s for sure: both dentists and orthodontists are here to preserve your dental health and smile for life.

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