The Difference Between an Orthodontist & Dentist

Posted in Orthodontics

Do you know the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist? Our orthodontists in Montreal explain.

What is an Orthodontist?

Orthodontists specialize in dental development and facial growth, including alignment of the jaw and teeth. An orthodontist's most important task is to identify issues with your mouth and teeth. 

They are qualified to treat both moderate and complex cases of orthodontics. Traditional metal braces, retainers, and clear aligners are all possible treatment options. In severe cases, a palate expander may be required to widen the arch of the upper jaw and provide more space. Patients with severely misaligned teeth may need to wear headgear to pull their front teeth back and slow their upper jaw's growth.

While some dentists do provide orthodontic treatment for misalignments classified as mild or moderate, they would not usually treat complex cases, and will only provide a limited number of treatment options.

Qualifications & Training

Orthodontics is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the Canadian Dental Association. A dental school diploma is required to practice dentistry. Some graduates will immediately begin practicing dentistry. These dentists are known as general dentists.

Following dental school, orthodontics will receive additional training. They will complete an accredited orthodontic advanced education program before receiving a specialty designation from their province's dental regulatory authority.

What are the differences in practice between orthodontics & dentistry?

While your general dentist cares for your routine dental health care needs, your orthodontist attends to all of your specific orthodontic needs.

You’ll go to your dentist for regular dental cleanings and examinations, in addition to restorations and treatments such as dental crowns, bridges, fillings, root canals, and more.

Most orthodontists will not provide this routine or restorative care. Instead, they focus primarily on helping to straighten their patients’ teeth and improving jaw alignment. 

Why should I get orthodontic treatment?

While orthodontics can help improve the look of your smile, there can also be many benefits for your oral health.

A bad bite can make speaking and chewing challenging, and cause uneven wear on your teeth. Clenching or grinding of your teeth may also be an issue. Teeth that are crowded, misaligned or overlapped may be difficult to clean, resulting in gum disease, tooth decay, and potentially even loss of teeth.

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

An orthodontist can effectively diagnose the issue and may even be able to correct it with early intervention, depending on the patient's condition. He or she may also create a personalized orthodontic treatment plan that includes braces, a retainer, clear aligners, or other options. Orthodontists treat patients of all ages, and more adults are opting for orthodontic treatment to straighten their teeth today.

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.

Do you have questions about how an orthodontist can help you? Contact our Montreal orthodontists today.

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