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The Difference Between an Orthodontist & Dentist

Here, our Manitoba dental team explains the differences between dentists and orthodontists.

What is an Orthodontist?

An orthodontist specializes in dental development and facial growth, which includes teeth and jaw alignments. The most important task an orthodontist performs is identifying problems with your teeth and mouth.

They are able to offer treatments for both moderate and complex orthodontic conditions. Some of the treatment options they might provide you with include clear aligners, traditional metal braces, and retainers. In severe cases, patients might require a palate expander to help widen the arch of their upper jaw and give the area more space. Patients with severely misaligned teeth might also require headgear to pull the front teeth back while slowing down the growth of the upper jaw. 

While some dentists are able to offer orthodontic treatments for misalignments that are mild or moderate, they will probably not be able to treat more serious or complex cases, and may only provide a couple of treatment options.

The Qualifications & Training of an Orthodontist

The Canadian Dental Association recognizes nine dental specialties, including orthodontics. To become a dentist, one must graduate from dental school. Some graduates will then go on to practice as dentists immediately. We call these general dentists.

Orthodontists will take more training after graduating from dental school. They will complete an accredited advanced education program in orthodontics, then attain a specialty designation from the provincial dental regulatory authority in their province.

The Differences Between Orthodontics & Dentistry

While your general dentist can provide you with your routine dental care, your orthodontist will address your specific orthodontic requirements.

You’ll see your dentist for routine dental cleanings and examinations, as well as restorations and treatments including root canals, fillings, dental crowns, bridges, and more.

Most orthodontists will not be able to provide routine or restorative dental care. Instead, their main focus is on helping their patients achieve straighter teeth and improve jaw alignment. 

When You Will Need Orthodontic Treatment

While orthodontics can help improve your smile's appearance, this form of treatment can also provide you with many oral health benefits.

A bad bite can make it hard to speak and chew, and cause uneven wear on your teeth. Clenching or grinding your teeth could also be a problem. Teeth that are crowded, misaligned, or overlapped can be difficult to clean, which can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and potentially even tooth loss.

Orthodontic issues may also have consequences for your overall physical health, such as headaches or earaches. 

Depending on the patient's condition, an orthodontist can effectively diagnose the problem and maybe even correct it with early intervention. They could also develop a customized orthodontic treatment plan that may consist of braces, a retainer, clear aligners, or other measures. Orthodontists should also be able to treat patients of any age. More adults are choosing to undergo orthodontic treatment today in an effort to help straighten their teeth. 

An orthodontist can treat malocclusions or misalignments, and help you achieve a healthier, straighter, and more symmetrical smile. Correctly aligned teeth can contribute to improved oral health, as they may be easier to brush, floss, and clean.

For for information about our orthodontic services or to schedule an appointment with our onsite orthodontist contact our Manitoba dental office today.

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