All orthodontists are dentists, however, not all dentists are orthodontists. While orthodontists will undergo the same training at first, they then go on to complete additional training after graduating from dental school. This equips them with the knowledge to handle specific issues that standard dentists may not receive as much training on. However, due to the confusion that this distinction can bring, it is important to understand when you should see a dentist as opposed to an orthodontist and vice versa. To help you understand further, here is what you need to know.
What Can Dentists Do?
A standard dental office will be able to handle most problems related to your overall dental health. For instance, nearly 91% of Americans between the ages of 20 and 64 currently have tooth decay. A dental office will be able to identify and treat this issue. They can also handle cases of mild gum disease and tooth removal. Most dentists will also be able to apply crowns and veneers to cracked or broken teeth. Additionally, they can identify the signs of oral disease and other problems that they may not be able to treat themselves. They can also refer you to a local orthodontic office to treat issues of misaligned teeth or incorrect bite.
What Can Orthodontists Do?
Orthodontic offices, as opposed to dental offices, specializing in tooth and jaw alignment. This means that they can help treat tooth crowding, gapping, and misaligned bite patterns. For instance, if misaligned teeth are making it hard to maintain optimal oral health, your dentist may suggest seeing an orthodontist for braces or clear aligners. Because misaligned teeth and bite patterns can sometimes have negative impacts on your oral health, it’s important to see them when recommended. It’s advised that children visit an orthodontist by age seven to ensure that there are no issues that need to be addressed. An orthodontist may wish to wait before starting treatment; however, most will wish to start some form of treatment once all permanent teeth have settled. This makes corrections easier and ensures that children are set up for better oral health later in life.
When Should You See a Dentist or Orthodontist?
It is advised that you visit a standard dental office once every six months or at least once a year. This will ensure that you have no cavities and are maintaining a healthy mouth. If you have a cavity or a toothache, a dentist will likewise be able to address your concerns and help treat your problems. However, if you are looking into teeth straightening or have otherwise been told by your regular dentist that you may need bite correction, you should consider setting up a visit with your local orthodontist. Most commonly, if orthodontic intervention is needed, your dentist will make a recommendation and referral for you.
Keeping a Healthy Mouth
Both dentists and orthodontists play an important role in keeping your mouth as healthy as possible. It’s important to remember to keep regular appointments with your general dentist and heed any advice that they give. For instance, if they advise seeing an orthodontist because tooth crowding is causing cavity development, you should heed their advice. While not everyone will need braces, it can still be worthwhile to get further in-depth professional advice on how to best maintain your oral health.