When it comes to dental care, one of your first questions is most likely about the difference between dentists and orthodontists. All orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists. Learning the differences can help you decide which type of care you’re looking for.
Occupation and Education
The major difference between a dentist and an orthodontist is that the latter is qualified to position and attach braces. A dentist may refer you to an orthodontist to obtain braces, but he or she is not the one who manipulates or changes them. When you are going to an orthodontist, you may still have to visit a regular dentist for check-ups and cleanings of your teeth. Dentists have attended dental school, with many specializing in a particular area, like orthodontic dentistry. Orthodontists have received much of the same training, but they have also received further training and education in the specific field of orthodontists.
The Amount of Visits
Perhaps you are wondering if you are going to see more of your orthodontist or your dentist. Once you have braces, you will see the orthodontist much more frequently. When you go to the orthodontist, you get your braces changed. For traditional metal braces, you will likely go once every six weeks or so. There are also different color options for braces, which especially helps younger patients feel better about their braces. If you are getting Invisalign, braces on the back of your teeth or another type, you may have a slightly different treatment plan.
The Duration of the Relationship
You are going to need to make appointments with the dentist for the rest of your life to check on the overall status of your teeth. Eventually, you will stop going to the orthodontist. Once you are finished with your braces, you will probably need to wear a retainer. Then, you will follow up with the orthodontist to see how your teeth are doing with the retainer. Treatment plans are different for everyone, with some needing orthodontic care for a longer period than others.
When to Schedule an Appointment
You should continue to schedule regular appointments with your dentist to make sure that your teeth are in the best shape possible. In most situations, your dentist will let you know if you need to make an appointment with an orthodontist. However, if you notice that your teeth are growing in crooked or that your jaw seems to be shifting, you can look into orthodontic care yourself.
While you will always need to make sure you go to the dentist, you may need to visit the orthodontist when major issues arise with your teeth. Both types of dental care specialist are vital to the continued health and functionality of your teeth.