All orthodontists are dentists. But not all dentists are orthodontists. And while some of our services do overlap, if you require specialist orthodontic care, you need to speak with a qualified specialist orthodontist.
In this brief post, we’re going to explain the difference between the two roles — and share why (and when) you should choose to go down the specialist route.
Orthodontist vs. Dentist: What’s the Difference?
It’s all about the training.
While we both study to become dentists, once we’ve qualified, we have a choice: Practice general dentistry or pursue further education in a dental specialism.
For orthodontists, this is a master’s in orthodontics (a further 3 years of study in the UK).
All qualified orthodontists must be registered with the General Dental Council. You can check if an orthodontist is registered by looking for their GDC number.
What does a dentist do?
A certified dentist can diagnose and treat certain oral health conditions, including those that affect your teeth, gums, tongue, and mouth. They also provide the following care:
- Promote oral health and hygiene
- Fill holes (cavities)
- Repair or remove damaged teeth
- Treat gum disease
- Whiten teeth
- Install crowns or veneers
- Manage and analyse dental X-rays
- Perform oral surgery
- Prescribe treatment and medication for oral health conditions
So, what can an orthodontist do that a dentist can’t?
Like a dentist, an orthodontist is also trained to diagnose and treat oral health conditions related to your teeth, gums, and mouth.
However, our main focus is on tooth and jaw alignment, treating irregularities of the teeth and abnormalities in relation to the surrounding structures. The technical term for these problems is “malocclusion”, which means “bad bite”.
To do this, we offer the following:
- Diagnosis and treatment of misaligned teeth and jaws
- Creation of a treatment plan (which typically includes braces and retainers)
- Installation of orthodontic appliances, such as braces, headgear, or palatal expanders
Why Choose a Specialist?
You may end up being referred to an orthodontist by a dentist, but there are three compelling reasons for choosing treatment with a specialist over your regular dentist from the beginning:
1. It saves time (and money)
Because general dentists don’t have the same level of training as orthodontists, they could misdiagnose your jaw pain, or choose the wrong treatment option for your misaligned teeth. And this could result in you spending more time and money trying to fix these mistakes in the long run.
2. We have more experience
General dentists are great at maintaining overall oral health. But when it comes to straightening teeth, correcting bites, or eradicating teeth and jaw pain, orthodontists are vastly more experienced. This means that you can feel confident you’re on the right path with your treatment.
3. You get more treatment options
Many general dentists can and do offer Invisalign treatment to patients dealing with misaligned teeth. However, because they’re not qualified orthodontists, even this treatment can be relatively limited and not always the best option.
Orthodontists, on the other hand, can provide a wide variety of treatments, from traditional metal or ceramic braces to lingual and incognito braces — and, of course, the full range of Invisalign treatments.
So, from your first consultation to your last, you can be certain that you’re receiving the most effective treatment for your situation.
Skip the Dentist; Go Direct
If you’re experiencing jaw pain or a weak bite — or if your teeth are noticeably misaligned and you’d like to do something about it — your dentist should refer you to an orthodontist. But that doesn’t always happen right away.
To save you time, money, and the risk of an incorrect treatment plan, you can go direct and speak with a specialist. An initial 15-30 minute consultation is all it takes to find out if you’d benefit from one of our treatment options.
Ready to get started? Contact us today.