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Orthodontist vs. Dentist: Decoding the Differences for Orthodontic Care

Choosing an orthodontist versus a dentist is an important decision that many people need to consider more. After all, both are dental professionals. However, there is quite a bit of difference between dentists and orthodontists — and the knowledge can come in handy if you want the best experience possible from your care provider. Here, we’ll provide several key points to help you distinguish which professional is right for you regarding orthodontic care.

What Is a Dentist?

Your teeth and gums are incredibly important, and caring for them is crucial. A dentist is a healthcare professional who maintains and promotes oral health. They have the skills and expertise to perform routine dental check-ups, cleanings, and more complex dental procedures such as fillings and root canals. 

A dentist is the first person to call if you experience any pain or discomfort in your mouth. These professionals are trained to recognize and diagnose any issues you may face and offer treatments to get your oral health back on track.

What Is an Orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a specialized dentist trained to diagnose, prevent, and treat dental and facial irregularities. One of their primary responsibilities is assessing and correcting malocclusions, commonly known as “bad bites.” This includes addressing issues such as overcrowded or spaced teeth, overbites, underbites, and crossbites using orthodontic appliances like braces, retainers, and aligners. They employ advanced diagnostic tools, including X-rays, photographs, and bite impressions, to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to the patient’s needs.

In addition to straightening teeth, orthodontists also manage the growth and development of facial structures in children, utilizing devices like palatal expanders to guide proper jaw alignment. Educating patients about their treatment options, providing care instructions for orthodontic appliances, and monitoring their progress throughout the treatment are also integral aspects of their role. 

Furthermore, staying updated with advancements in orthodontic technology and techniques is essential to ensure patients receive the most effective and efficient care. Overall, the primary aim of an orthodontist is to ensure optimal oral health and functionality while enhancing the aesthetics of a patient’s smile.

Orthodontist vs. Dentist: Core Differences

Both orthodontists and dentists work in the field of oral healthcare, but there are distinct differences in their training, specializations, and primary focus areas. Here are the core differences between an orthodontist and a dentist:

Scope of Practice

Dentists are general practitioners who provide a wide range of dental care services, including preventive care (cleanings, exams, X-rays), restorative treatments (fillings, crowns), gum disease treatment, root canals, and tooth extractions. They can also offer some essential orthodontic services but are not specialists. 

Orthodontists specialize in diagnosing and treating issues related to misaligned teeth and jaws. They primarily focus on orthodontic treatments such as braces, clear aligners (e.g., Invisalign), and other devices to straighten teeth, correct bite problems, and improve dental alignment.

Primary Focus

General dentists focus on overall oral health. They diagnose and treat issues related to teeth and gums and perform cleanings, tooth extractions, fillings, crowns, root canals, and other general dental procedures. 

Orthodontists specialize in diagnosing, preventing, and treating dental and facial irregularities, such as malocclusion (bad bites). Their primary focus is correcting teeth and jaws’ alignment and braces, clear aligners, and other orthodontic appliances.

Duration of Care

We often visit our dentist for regular check-ups or specific procedures that may take several appointments. However, in the case of orthodontic treatment, the duration of care can span several months to years. 

Patients with orthodontic issues visit their orthodontist regularly for adjustments and monitoring. These visits are necessary to ensure that the treatment plan progresses and that any problems are corrected before they become more significant. Though it may take longer, the result of a beautiful, healthy smile is well worth the wait.

Age Groups

Dentists typically treat patients of all ages, from children to adults and seniors, for a broad spectrum of dental needs. Orthodontists primarily work with patients who require orthodontic treatment to address issues like crooked teeth or bite problems. While some children may receive orthodontic care, the majority of orthodontic patients are adolescents and adults.

How Do You Know Which One You Need?

Choosing between an orthodontist and a dentist can be confusing, as both professions deal with teeth. However, there are significant differences in their training and expertise. Orthodontists specialize in aligning teeth and correcting bite issues, while dentists offer a wide range of dental services, including cleanings, fillings, and extractions. 

To determine the best course of treatment for your dental needs, it is always recommended to schedule a consultation with our team. We can evaluate your dental condition and guide you in achieving a healthy and beautiful smile.

Transform Your Smile With Professional Orthodontic Care at Brodie Bowman Orthodontics in Fort Walton Beach, FL

Deciphering the distinctions between an orthodontist and a dentist is crucial in making informed decisions about your oral health. Whether you need general dental upkeep or more specialized alignment treatments, ensure you see the right professional. And for the residents of Fort Walton Beach, FL, we are always here to serve your orthodontic needs with excellence. 

At Brodie Bowman Orthodontics, we are passionate about designing beautiful smiles. Our priority is to deliver outstanding orthodontic care for patients of all ages, from children to adults. Our comprehensive range of orthodontic services, such as braces and Invisalign, cater to various dental concerns. Our goal is to assist every patient in achieving a perfectly aligned and healthy smile they can take pride in. 

Whether you’re interested in traditional braces or Invisalign, we’re here to help. Contact us online or call us at (850) 659-7599 to schedule a consultation and learn more about our orthodontics services.