How to Tell if you Need a Dentist or an Orthodontist

Dental heath is an essential part of overall health and well-being. When something goes wrong inside your mouth, it is sometimes confusing what kind of dental care you need now that general dentistry has many specialty fields, including orthodontics. Many people only know orthodontists as dentists who specialize in braces, but what do they really do and how will you know that you have to see an orthodontist instead of a general dentist? This is important to know because they perform different treatments.

What is the difference between the two?

An orthodontist is a licensed dentist who specializes in orthodontics, a branch of dentistry that focuses on the prevention, diagnosis and correction of malpositioned jaws and teeth. He must first train to become a dentist and complete a postgraduate Masters or Doctorate course. Before becoming an orthodontist, the practitioner must first gain experience in maxillofacial surgery, paediatric and restorative dentistry.

Dentists deal with the broader aspect of oral health, while orthodontists are licensed dentists who can work on crooked or overcrowded teeth, under or overbites and other problems. The latter takes two more years of coursework, specifically orthodontics. A dentist may refer a patient to an orthodontist if the needed treatment is beyond the scope of general dentistry. Contrary to what some people believe, orthodontics does not just deal with superficial concerns. Issues being treated by specialists can lead to serious problems such as bone destruction or speech defects. Your trusted dentist will know if you need the help of an orthodontist.

When to see a dentist

The work of a dentist and orthodontist may overlap because orthodontists are qualified dentists, yet not all dentists are licensed orthodontists. Your dentist will help you have clean, healthy teeth through check-ups, regular cleaning, teeth repair, X-rays and more. If your oral problems include tooth decay, gum disease, cavity and other general oral health issues, you can go to your dentist.

When to see an orthodontist

It is best to visit an orthodontist for problems like crooked, overcrowded and misaligned teeth. If you have under or overbite or your teeth cause discomfort when chewing food or speaking, you should also see a licensed orthodontist. He will be able to check your teeth’s alignment and recommend the necessary course of action. “Appliances” such as braces is one of the treatments done by orthodontists to correct misaligned teeth.

Orthodontists have the training and experience to practice orthodontics. They have all the needed orthodontic supplies and equipment to perform their work effectively. It pays to know which dental care provider to visit so that the proper diagnosis and treatment will be performed. Whether you’re bothered by a minor or serious dental problem, you should not take oral health for granted.