When it comes to taking care of your teeth, is there a difference between dentists and orthodontists? Our Calgary orthodontist Dr. Vivek Cheba explains.
Dentist or Orthodontist?
First and foremost, all dental professionals are dental health experts. They have the ability to diagnose and treat diseases of the teeth, gums, and mouth. As providers of general dental care for all age groups, dentists focus more on routine dental health care needs. This includes regular check ups, examinations, and cleanings with the help of registered dental hygienists and assistants. Dentists are also extensively trained to perform restorations and treatments such as root canals, crowns, bridges, and veneers.
Though both dentists and orthodontists study general dentistry and are trained to diagnose and treat conditions of the teeth, gums, tongue, and mouth, an orthodontic specialist is a specialist in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. While dentists undergo years of training to accurately diagnose dental problems, it takes a specialist to diagnose and fix what you don’t see. Think of your dentist as a general practitioner and your orthodontist as a specialist. Simply put, orthodontists are certified to diagnose and treat some issues that dentists aren’t.
A healthy and beautiful smile is just one of the benefits orthodontics has to offer. Orthodontists offer treatment plans based on the severity of the case that will bring teeth, lips, and jaws into proper alignment. According to the Canadian Association of Orthodontics, the psychological benefit of straight street can be a significant factor in the decision to undergo treatment and is often listed as a patient’s #1 treatment goal.
Next, we’ll break down five common myths associated with orthodontic specialists and the treatments they provide.
Myth #1: Orthodontic Treatment is Only For Children
False! Because healthy teeth can be shifted at any age, an orthodontist can improve the smile for people of all ages. Orthodontic treatment is an investment in your health because of the benefits it offers. Not only does treatment improve functions like speaking, chewing, jaw pain, and overall confidence, it can make crowded teeth easier to clean, which in turn reduces the chances of decay or gum disease. If you’re a candidate for orthodontic treatment, age is not a consideration when it comes to obtaining a smile you love.
Myth #2: Anyone Who Provides Braces or Aligners is an Orthodontist
False! General dentists and online companies that offer orthodontic treatment are not formally trained and educated in the specialty of orthodontics. Though some general dentists do offer braces and aligners, only a certified orthodontist has the training, experience, and treatment options to effectively help achieve a beautiful and healthy smile.
Myth #3: Visits to an Orthodontist Are Not Necessary to Achieve Straight Teeth
False! It’s essential to regularly visit your orthodontist when undergoing orthodontic treatment. It’s important to be examined and evaluated by a certified orthodontist and receive a customized treatment plan tailored to the severity of your case. Once treatment is underway, regular visits are required to track the progress.
Myth #4: Orthodontic Treatment is Purely Cosmetic
False! Though most associate orthodontics with traditional braces or clear aligners to straighten crowded or crooked teeth, the treatment is focused on properly aligning your bite and making sure that your teeth and jaw are set correctly.
Myth #5: Orthodontists Only Offer Braces
False! Orthodontists are experts in various different treatment options and are qualified to recommend the best option depending on the severity of your case.
It’s important to remember that both dentists and orthodontists play a vital role in keeping your teeth healthy. However, patients should be aware that a general dentist offering orthodontic treatment does not necessarily have all of the required additional education, training, certifications, and experiences in the specialty that a certified orthodontist does. That being said, if you’re embarking on an orthodontic journey, be sure to still visit your dentist twice a year for regular checkups!