What’s the Difference Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist?

dentist orthodontist

When experiencing oral health issues, you may wonder whether you must visit a dentist or an orthodontist. Both dentists and orthodontists help their patients improve their overall health. While dentists and orthodontists are similar in their roles as oral care providers, their practices have clear differences. If you have any dental concerns, it’s in your best interest to schedule an appointment with our knowledgeable general dentistry/dentists located in Basking Ridge & Morristown, NJ, who can help you improve your oral health. Please continue reading as we’ve outlined some key differences between these two professions to help you better understand their purpose and importance.

What Does a Dentist Do?

Understandably, it isn’t easy to distinguish between the roles of dentists and orthodontics, as they are both responsible for working on teeth. However, despite their similarities, it’s crucial to understand that a dentist is not an orthodontist. Even if your dentist can put appliances such as aligners or braces on teeth, that doesn’t necessarily make them an orthodontist. Dentists, unlike orthodontists, are concerned with overall oral health. They focus on your day-to-day health, eliminating abnormalities, performing restorative work, and teaching patients how to prevent dental disease by proactively implementing good dental hygiene routines, such as brushing and flossing.

Dentists can provide services such as cavity fillings, tooth repairs or extractions, crown replacements, dentures, veneer or bonding, and even cosmetic services like teeth whitening. Essentially, dentists are generalists equipped to treat a wide range of oral problems. It’s crucial to visit your dentist regularly for cleanings, X-rays, and when dental issues arise. Most people should visit their dentist every six months. Still, some individuals with a higher risk of developing specific oral health issues like gum disease should visit their dentist more frequently.

What Does an Orthodontist Do?

An orthodontist is a specialist who focuses on your bite, jaw, and teeth alignment. It’s a common misconception that orthodontists only concentrate on making your smile look aesthetically pleasing. However, they also focus on adequately ensuring your bite and jaw function. While you may be excellent at maintaining oral health, you may have other dental problems like crowded teeth, gaps between teeth, or a jaw that doesn’t align properly. Improperly aligned teeth and jaws can lead to a wide range of problems, including gum disease, tooth decay, speech impediments, persistent pain, or a lack of confidence in social settings. Orthodontists can offer many treatments, including retainers, clear aligners, and traditional braces. General dentists may refer patients to orthodontists in circumstances that require specialty care.

As you can see, dentists and orthodontists play an integral role in keeping teeth and mouths healthy. If you have any oral health concerns, you should enlist the help of our seasoned team of professional dentists at the Dental Associates of Basking Ridge. Our team is prepared to help determine the best action to improve oral health.


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