Orthodontist vs Dentist: What are the Differences?

Some may believe that the professions of dentist and orthodontist are basically the same. However, there are several differences. These include education, experience and practice areas, among others. Orthodontists specialize in providing patients with alignment devices to straighten the teeth, such as braces and retainers. A strong understanding of orthodontia is necessary to create and carry out a plan for each patient. This kind of specific understanding is acquired through extensive specialized education.

A dentist also undergoes a great deal of schooling to gain the expertise necessary to treat patients for a wide assortment of dental issues, but a dentist handles a less specialized area of dental health. Read on to learn more about the differences between an orthodontist and a dentist.

Primary Differences

Both dentists and orthodontists must complete dental school, allowing them to become practicing dental professionals. They can then go on to choose a specialty area of expertise. Orthodontists specialize in orthodontics and go on to learn the necessary information to treat patients in this area.

They must also complete a residency in which they obtain hands-on practice, usually lasting between two and three years. Being accepted into an orthodontics program is quite competitive and requires the candidate possess a stellar academic background.

Some dentists may obtain short trainings or workshops in subject matter related to orthodontia. However, they cannot call themselves an orthodontist. It’s important to note that a dentist offering orthodontics or orthodontic services is likely not a certified orthodontist.

Why It Matters

A certified orthodontist has extensive hands-on and academic experience in treating patients with issues related to orthodontia. This level of expertise allows them a higher level of trust from patients seeking specialized services in the area of teeth alignment. You want to be sure you are receiving treatment from the most qualified practitioner. A specialist in any medical field will always possess more concrete knowledge and understanding of their specialty than a generalist.

A dental specialist with knowledge of orthodontics will be better prepared to plan treatments, spot problems and handle the unique needs of orthodontic patients than a general dentist, and vice versa. Because general dentists handle procedures like filling cavities and replacing missing teeth, they are likely best suited to treat patients with more generalized dental needs.

As you can see, there are some very important differences between dentists and orthodontists. It’s important that you have an understanding of your dental needs and seek treatment from the correct type of practitioner. Doing your research and asking questions will ensure you find a dental professional who is highly qualified and competent to treat your unique issues.

Contact the office of Dr. Brodie Bowman, DMD today to schedule an appointment.