Dentists vs Orthodontists

Both dentists and orthodontists help ensure you have a healthy, beautiful smile, but they play very different roles in making this happen. A general dentist, for example, performs a wide range of dental services, ranging from basic teeth cleaning to more extensive procedures such as dental implants. An orthodontist, on the other hand, is a specialist who only performs services — such as braces — related to straightening teeth. The following characteristics will help you distinguish between general dentists and orthodontists so you know which professional best meets your dental needs.

Required Training for Dentists vs. Orthodonists

Both dentists and orthodontists attend dental school. However, an orthodonist completes additional training, called a residency, to earn this specialty designation. They must apply for these residencies, which last between 2 and 4 years and are similar to the residencies doctors complete to earn the title of cardiologist, for example. Orthodontics residencies are typically highly competitive, meaning anyone selected has to demonstrate high academic achievement and skill as a dentist.

Services Performed by Dentists vs. Orthodontists

An orthodontist only performs services and procedures intended to straighten a patient’s teeth. This includes traditional metal braces as well as newer forms such as clear braces or braces attached to the back of the teeth. Orthodonists also perform regular checkups on patients fitted with these types of dental devices. The orthodonist may make adjustments to a patient’s braces or retainer, for example. They also make molds of a patient’s mouth in order to create braces, retainers and other dental devices. Dentists provide a more diverse array of services, and are responsible for maintaining a patient’s overall dental and oral health. For example, they perform root canals, fill teeth and fit patients for dentures.

Why It’s Important to Know the Difference

Dentists sometimes perform orthodontic services such as braces, but they haven’t undergone the additional training that orthodontists complete. For the best results, visit a professional who specifies that they’re an orthodontist, not just that they perform orthodontic services. An orthodontist has more extensive training than a general dentist, and also likely has several years of experience performing orthodontic procedures. They can evaluate your dental situation and determine which method of teeth straightening will be most effective for your circumstances.

When to Visit an Orthodontist

If you have crooked or misaligned teeth, or if your jaw isn’t positioned properly, an orthodontist will know how to correct the situation or prevent it from worsening. They also treat issues such as an overbite or a problem with how the upper and lower jaws are positioned in relation to each other. However, you still need to visit your general dentist regularly for checkups and dental cleanings.

If you’re looking for an orthodontist in Las Vegas, book an appointment today with Griffiths Simister Orthodontics. Our caring, knowledgeable staff can your questions about orthodontics and the many options available for straightening your teeth. We can also create a customized treatment plan that’s right both for your dental needs and your budget.