Have you ever wondered if your dentist is also an orthodontist? If so, you should take a moment to read this.
We know where the confusion may be coming from, after all both dentists and orthodontists work on teeth, provide professional care that helps patients have good oral health and are dental school graduates.
In some cases, your dentist may even offer orthodontic services such as Invisalign leading you to assume that he/she is an orthodontist.
But the truth is that putting aligners or braces on teeth does not make a doctor an orthodontist.
Dentists, who are also known as general dentists, are concerned with overall oral health and mainly treat decayed teeth and remove failed teeth. Dentists provide services such as crowns, veneers or bonding to improve the appearance and function of teeth that have extensive decay, are misshapen or broken. They also look for abnormalities in the mouth and teach patients how to prevent dental disease.
Dentists are extremely knowledgeable and skillful, but certain areas of dentistry have educational programs beyond dental school one of them being orthodontics. Dental specialists become specialists by completing four years of general dental education in dental school, and then continuing in an accredited program where they study their specific specialty full-time. When dentists successfully complete their formal specialty education, they are able to use a title that denotes their area of specialization. “Orthodontist” is one example.
Other dental specialists include endodontists, periodontists, pediatric dentists, and oral and maxillofacial surgeons.
Orthodontists are specialists who focus on the bite – how teeth meet and function, how they are aligned, how they are set in the jaws, and the positioning and sizes of the upper and lower jaws.
General dentists are licensed to practice dentistry. In some states, they are allowed to provide specialty care and that is the reason dentist may be able to provide braces or aligners to move teeth, but that does not mean the dentist is an orthodontist. Only orthodontists have the additional two or more years of orthodontic education.
So that you can tell the difference between a dental specialist (such as an orthodontist) and a general dentist, be aware of the following: