Dentists and orthodontists are both medical professionals who help patients improve their oral health, but in different ways. Dentistry is a broad medical specialty that deals with the teeth, gums, nerves and the jaw, while orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry that focuses on correcting the bites, occlusion and straightness of the teeth. A dentist is a doctor trained to specialize in the teeth, gums, nerves, and jaw. Orthodontists are also dentists, but their specialty in dentistry focuses on correcting bites, occlusion, and the straightness of the teeth. Orthodontists and dentists share many similarities: they work together to help you improve your overall oral health, but they actually work in very different ways.
Dentists cover a wide range of oral health issues. An orthodontist, on the other hand, is a dental specialist who focuses on issues such as straightening teeth and correcting inadequate bite patterns. In some cases, there may be an overlap in the services that each professional can offer. In some states, dentists may provide some orthodontic treatments, such as braces, in addition to their general dental services, according to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). However, orthodontists generally only offer treatments that fall within their dental specialty.
While you may see dentists advertising orthodontic treatments, only a dental professional who has received appropriate training can be called an orthodontist. You may only see your orthodontist during orthodontic treatment, but you'll visit a trusted general dentist for life. Your dentist must complete 8 years of higher education, while your orthodontist must complete 10 or 11 years to become a specialist. Even while you're undergoing treatment with your orthodontist, you should go to appointments with your family dentist every six months to have your teeth cleaned. In fact, orthodontists can work in a dental office and perform the same tasks as a dentist; they only have additional education that allows them to specialize in orthodontics. Orthodontists typically specialize in aligning teeth and jaws, while dentists can help patients achieve a cleaner, healthier smile through cleanings, x-rays, and even surgery. It is at this stage that a dentist who wants to become an orthodontic specialist must apply and be accepted into an orthodontic residency.
Through regular checkups, dentists can detect and treat cavities, mild gum disease and oral hygiene problems; they can also remove teeth that can't be saved. A general dentist generally doesn't have the advantage of consulting with other orthodontists about complex cases in their office. Dentists treat a wide variety of oral health problems and diseases such as cavities and gum diseases like gingivitis. Both a dentist and an orthodontist must earn a bachelor's degree and then apply and be accepted to a dental school. To become a dentist, a person must complete four years of college education and four years of dental school according to the American Dental Association. Orthodontists and dentists receive the same training initially; however, orthodontists complete their training after graduating from dental school.