Dentist vs. orthodontist: are they the same?

What’s a dentist? What’s an orthodontist? Are they the same? Both are necessary for great dental health. So which is which, and who should you call when you need help? Oltjen Orthodontics is here to clear up these questions and help you know when to visit one, the other, or both!

Dentist vs. orthodontist

When is a dentist an orthodontist? And is an orthodontist ever a dentist? A dentist and an orthodontist may seem to be the same, but they’re actually quite different.

Let’s start with their similarities — both specialize in dental health, and both go to dental school to do so.

From there, the professions diverge in everything from schooling to specialties. We’re happy to explain and help you decide who you should see and when!

Dental vs. Orthodontic education

Dentists and orthodontists start their careers the same way, by earning degrees in accredited dental schools, usually over four years. They can either go into dental practice or continue their education to achieve a specialty, such as orthodontics.

Orthodontists add education in their more specialized fields. They complete that specialized schooling over 2-4 years after completing dental school. Think of it as becoming a general practice doctor vs. becoming a neurosurgeon. Orthodontists are essentially dentists that complete specialized training in straightening teeth and correcting misaligned bites.

Dentists: overall oral health

Dentists help patients improve and maintain their overall oral health. They’re the ones that make sure your teeth are clean, your gums are healthy, and that beautiful smile of yours lasts a lifetime! You would call a dentist to help solve any of these issues:

  • Teeth cleaning
  • Gingivitis
  • Other gum diseases
  • Tooth decay
  • Broken teeth
  • Crowns
  • Veneers
  • Teeth whitening

Orthodontists: specialized care

Orthodontists have the same training as dentists — plus additional training and education that focuses specifically on tooth position, jaw placement, and other specialized care. Orthodontists help create that gorgeous, new smile you’ve always wanted!

Orthodontists focus their care on the following:

  • Crowded teeth
  • Gap teeth
  • Missing teeth
  • Overbite
  • Underbite
  • Crossbite

Many orthodontists offer services like teeth whitening as a convenience for orthodontic patients. However, our main focus is on tooth placement, jaw alignment, and creating a smile you can be proud to show off!

Dentist vs. orthodontist: when to visit

Some people believe you don’t need to visit a dentist during orthodontic treatments. Or they believe a dentist can handle certain orthodontic issues.

Actually, regular dental visits are a must during orthodontic treatment. What’s more, a dentist can recommend a visit to the orthodontist if they spot something that needs to be addressed. Dental visits will ensure your teeth and gums stay clean and healthy before, during, and after orthodontic treatment. After all, what good are straight teeth if you end up with tooth decay and gum disease? A dentist will help keep your teeth strong, healthy, and bright for years to come.

When do you need orthodontic treatment? Your dentist will help you decide. A dentist can spot issues that an orthodontist can fix, such as crowded teeth or an overbite. He or she can refer you to an orthodontist’s office, such as Oltjen Orthodontics, and we can offer the best solutions and treatment for you.

Emergency care

What happens if an emergency arises during orthodontic treatment? We’ve got you covered!

Whatever the issue, start by contacting us right away to let us know the situation. We will let you know if the dentist is the appropriate person to see, or if we can take care of it for you.

See a dentist if you have the following:

  • Tooth decay or a cavity
  • Gums that remain irritated or bleed
  • A broken tooth
  • A crown or filling that has fallen out

Give us a call right away if something happens to your braces or clear aligners. We will assess the issue and offer a solution, whether it’s something you can do at home or something that will require a quick fix in our office.

Contact the orthodontist if you experience:

  • Broken or bent wire
  • Loose or detached bracket
  • A loose wire poking or damaging the mouth
  • Damaged or lost clear aligner

At Oltjen Orthodontics, we are adept at handling orthodontic emergencies. We’ll work to get you in right away and make the repairs quickly. Give us a call, and we’ll be happy to help. We’ve got your back!

Getting started with Oltjen Orthodontics

If you still have questions about dentists vs. orthodontists, we’d love to clear those up for you! Give us a call at Oltjen Orthodontics, and we can lead you on the path toward better overall oral health. Begin by scheduling a consultation. You deserve to have a beautiful smile, and we can help you achieve it! Check out our blog!