Understanding the Difference Between a Dentist & an Orthodontist

dentists and orthodontists side by side

Even up to this day, many are still confused at how dentists are different from orthodontists. Although both of them help patients improve their smile and overall dental health, they differ in terms of area of practice and specialty. To determine which type of specialist you need, here is some information separating these two professionals:

Area of Specialization

The focus of a dentist’s practice is to diagnose and manage a person’s overall oral health. They often perform cleaning, check-ups, and x-rays as well as provide dental treatments.

A dentist handles all types of treatment and service to keep your mouth healthy. An orthodontist, on the other hand, is a special branch of dentistry that corrects and fixes improper bites, which often involves misaligned teeth and jaw.

Educational Background

Both specialists completed a four-year doctoral program and could earn the title Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D) once they passed the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE).

A general dentist becomes an orthodontist when they decide to pursue further study and training in the field of orthodontics. The American Dental Association (ADA) would require these professionals to attend an additional two- to three-year residency in an ADA-certified dental school before getting a certification as a full-fledged orthodontist.

Treatments They Perform

As mentioned, a general dentist provides primary dental care to patients. Some of the most common procedures they perform under this profession include:

  • Dental Crown Procedure
  • Dental Implants & Bridges
  • Dental Fillings
  • Dental (or Porcelain Veneers)
  • Root Canal Treatment
  • Teeth & Gum Cleaning

Consequently, a practicing orthodontist in Salt Lake City also performs a variety of procedure, but is mainly focused on re-aligning and correcting improper and wrong bites. Their procedure often requires the use of various dental appliances, such as:

  • Dental Braces
  • Dental Wires
  • Invisalign
  • Dental Headgears
  • Palatal Expanders
  • Retainers
  • Separators or Spacers

Hopefully, this information could give you a better understanding what these two dental professions can do. The next time you have a concern regarding your teeth or your gums, know which specialist you should go. Besides, you could always ask them for advice and further recommendation.