Orthodontists and dentists are both responsible for keeping your teeth healthy and beautiful. But sometimes it can be confusing to know the difference between the two and who you should see for certain treatments. Your oral health plays a crucial role in your overall health, and it’s helpful to know the different services an orthodontist and dentist provide so you can find the help you need when you need it.
Learn more about the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist, and find out how Langford Orthodontics can provide you with the top orthodontic treatments in Knoxville and Seymour, TN.
What does a dentist do?
Dentistry is a branch of medicine that focuses on preventing and treating conditions in your teeth, gums, and oral nerves. Dentists are general practitioners who provide guidance and services related to the overall health of your mouth. In addition to routine cleanings, they work to prevent, diagnose, and treat cavities and oral diseases.
Some of the most common services dentists provide include:
- Teeth cleaning
- Cavity filling
- Tooth extraction
- Root canals
These dental treatments are essential for maintaining healthy teeth and, in some cases, resolving serious issues that could impact your overall health.
What does an orthodontist do?
While dentistry is a more general practice, orthodontics is a specialized area within dentistry that focuses on straightening your teeth and correcting alignment issues. All orthodontists are dentists that have completed additional schooling that certifies them to practice orthodontics as well.
Think of it this way: all orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists.
Orthodontists use appliances like clear aligners and braces to address a wide range of orthodontic conditions, including, but not limited to:
- Misaligned teeth
- Gapped teeth
- Crowded teeth
A few things orthodontists don’t do include:
- Oral surgery
- Pulling teeth
Orthodontist vs. dentist education and training
While education and training are crucial for any medical professional, it’s especially important for specialized practitioners, like orthodontists, to hone their skills in their specific field.
Orthodontists and dentists complete the same four years of general dental education, but orthodontists then pursue additional education. This specialized orthodontic training provides an in-depth focus on properly moving teeth and aligning jaws in both children and adults. Along with this additional education, orthodontists must complete a residency of two-to-three years and 5,000 hours of practical training.
Even once they’re certified and practicing, highly skilled orthodontists will join professional organizations that advance the doctors’ skills and expertise. Especially in today’s world where technology is always changing and progressing, it’s more important than ever to our team at Langford Orthodontics to stay at the forefront of best practices in the industry. Dr. Langford and Dr. Ringer are both members of the following professional associations:
- American Association of Orthodontists
- Southern Association of Orthodontists
- Tennessee Association of Orthodontists
Should I see a dentist or an orthodontist?
If you find yourself asking whether you should see a dentist or an orthodontist, it really comes down to what treatment you’re seeking.
Patients should visit a dentist for routine check-ups and cleanings. Dentists can also treat oral pain, tooth decay, gum disease, cavities, and other similar conditions. It’s recommended to visit the dentist twice a year, or every six months, to maintain oral health. During your check-up, your dentist may notice crooked teeth or bite alignment issues, and in that case, they should refer you to an orthodontist.
You don’t have to wait for a referral from a dentist, though, to seek orthodontic treatment. If you notice your teeth are crooked, gapped, or misaligned, you can find a family orthodontist near you for a complimentary consultation exam. Orthodontists don’t perform cleanings, oral surgery, or pull teeth, however, so you should consult your dentist for their recommendation for these procedures.
While some general dentists do offer orthodontic treatment services, especially clear aligners, we always recommend seeking treatment from a certified orthodontist to ensure you receive the best possible care to meet your specific needs.
Find the care you need at Langford Orthodontics
Here at Langford Orthodontics, we have a highly skilled team dedicated to providing high-quality orthodontic treatment you can trust. Whether you’re looking for braces or clear aligners such as Invisalign® or Spark™, or you aren’t quite sure which treatment is best for you, we’re here to help. Schedule a complimentary consultation to get started at one of our orthodontic offices in Seymour or West Knoxville, TN.
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