What Is the Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist?

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what is the difference between a dentist and an Orthodontist

You get one set of teeth in your lifetime, so taking care of them is essential. Of course, you can care for them by visiting a dentist, but you might also want to see an orthodontist.

So, what is the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist? Additionally, do you need to see both? The truth is that 100% of people need dentists for their services, while fewer people need orthodontists.

At any point, around 4 million people wear braces, which they get from orthodontists. On the flip side, more than 44% of the U.S. population visits a dentist each year. 

If you don’t understand the primary differences between a dentist and an orthodontist, it might be wise to learn. Here is a guide to help you know.

What is a Dentist?

Dentists and orthodontists have several things in common, but their primary duties and objectives are different. A dentist’s primary concern is for the health of a person’s mouth. 

Oral health is not limited to teeth alone. Instead, it also includes the jawbone, gums, and tissue. The services a dentist offers promote healthy mouths, and you can separate their duties into two categories:

Preventative Services

First, a dentist focuses on helping people prevent problems with their mouths. They do this through routine examinations and cleanings. 

A dentist thoroughly cleans a person’s teeth each time they schedule an exam and cleaning. This service helps reduce the risk of decay forming on teeth

Dentists also teach people how to properly brush their teeth and encourage people to floss and use a mouth rinse. They can also help you learn other ways to avoid developing decay. 

Preventing problems is the best way to protect your teeth; this is a dentist’s number one objective. 

Restoration Services

Secondly, dentists assist with restoration services. For example, a dentist diagnoses the issue and offers a treatment plan when someone develops an oral problem.

For example, a dentist recommends a dental filling when finding a cavity. Dentists also recommend procedures for tooth infections, gum disease, and rotten teeth. 

A dentist looks for the best way to fix an oral problem and aims to fix it quickly. 

What is an Orthodontist?

As you read an orthodontist guide, you’ll discover that an orthodontist also performs oral care work. However, an orthodontist’s services and goals are different than dentists. 

An orthodontist focuses on three main things:

  • Teeth alignment 
  • Bite 
  • Jawbone

Therefore, orthodontists offer one main service: braces. Braces are devices that come in several forms, but they serve the same role. They shift a person’s teeth, bite, and jawbone. 

Traditional braces include wires and brackets on the teeth. The wire contains tension that forces teeth to shift gradually.

Braces also assist with moving the arches. For example, if you have an overbite, the orthodontist will use the braces to shift your upper arch back and your lower arch forward.

The goal is to help each person have straighter teeth with a properly aligned bite. 

Invisible braces are another option that some orthodontists offer. Invisible braces have the same goal, but they achieve the goal with different equipment. 

Invisible braces consist of clear aligners a person can put in and remove. The aligners place tension on the teeth to shift them.

These braces aren’t as good at shifting a person’s bite as traditional braces, but they work well for shifting teeth into the proper alignment. 

How Often Should You See a Dentist?

Dentists usually recommend getting cleanings and exams every six months. However, your dentist might encourage quarterly visits if you have a higher risk of developing decay or gum disease than the average person. 

You might also need to visit a dentist more often if you find tooth problems. For example, if your dentist finds cavities at your exam, you must schedule an appointment for cavity removal. 

It’s also vital to know that you might need some dental work before getting braces. For example, your orthodontist might recommend extracting a few teeth before getting braces if you have an overcrowded mouth.

An orthodontist doesn’t extract teeth, so you’d have to visit your dentist to have this done.

Your orthodontist might also encourage a checkup and exam before applying your braces to ensure that your mouth is healthy. Orthodontists won’t place braces on if the person has oral issues.

The person must fix the oral issues first. When fixed, the orthodontist will place the braces on their teeth. 

How Can You Tell if You Need to See an Orthodontist?

You can get braces at any age. However, orthodontists generally won’t place braces on children until they have enough adult teeth present. But, how can you know if you need braces? 

First, are your teeth crooked and uneven? It’s easy to see if you have straight, properly aligned teeth when you smile while looking in a mirror. If you have crooked teeth, it’s a sign you need braces. 

Secondly, how is your bite? Your bite refers to how your teeth meet when you close your mouth. Your upper teeth should cross over your bottom teeth slightly. You’ll need braces if your bite doesn’t meet this description. 

If you’re still wondering if you need braces, you can read more orthodontist tips about signs you need braces

What is the Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist?

So, what is the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?

After reading this guide, you should understand that a dentist’s main role is to help you care for your teeth, while an orthodontist focuses more on proper teeth alignment.

However, dentists and orthodontists are both important for your oral health. If you have a dentist but need an orthodontist, contact us.

At Vincent Team Orthodontics, we offer braces to help you align your teeth, bite, and jaw. We operate in Sandy, UT, and would love to hear from you.