Understanding the Difference Between a Dentist and Orthodontist

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Understanding the Difference Between a Dentist and Orthodontist

While ideally you won’t require extensive dental work throughout your life, sometimes it’s necessary to see a specialist and receive treatment outside of routine cleanings and other dental procedures. That’s where doctors like orthodontists come in, who are specialists that deal with the structures of your teeth. Here are a few major differences between an orthodontist and your regular dentist.

1. Basic Differences

According to WebMD, the basic definition of what an orthodontist does is specialize in structures of the teeth, and how to correct them if need be. They serve people of all ages, ranging from small children to older adults, though some have a specific focus on pediatrics. In other words, an orthodontist is the doctor you go to see for corrective devices like braces and retainers, whereas a dentist deals with every day care and simpler procedures like fillings or root canals that don’t require invasive surgery.

2. When You Need an Orthodontist, and Not a Dentist

Essentially, if you need braces, retainers, or other devices to alter and correct the structure of your teeth for conditions such as overbites, crossbites, crowding, or uneven spacing, to name just a few, you’ll need to see an orthodontist.

3. How to Find an Orthodontist

If you’re in need of a orthodontist, St. Louis has Forest Park Dental which is one of the rare all-in-one practices where they do many procedures and have specialists all under one roof. Many times, dental offices don’t have specialists in-house, and you will need to travel somewhere else. If this is the case, though, the best way to find an orthodontist is to go by recommendations. Let your dentist refer you to an orthodontist they’re used to working with, but then make sure to do your research on the person. Look up patient reviews and ask around to make sure that the doctor you’ve been referred to is reliable. Don’t forget to also check whether they’re an in-network provider for your dental insurance, since it becomes much more expensive and there’s no guarantee that your dentist will know.

4. What You Can Expect from an Orthodontist

Unlike a dentist who you’ll see for regular, routine check-ups, cleanings, and the occasional filling or root canal, and orthodontist is a doctor who you go to for a consultation for potential treatment. If you’re a candidate to receive a corrective device, then regular follow up visits for examination and adjustments will be necessary. Receiving orthodontic treatment can take years, and requires a lot of maintenance. Your dentist will also be in regular contact with your orthodontist, and any other doctor that deals with your dental care, to ensure that your regiment of care is best for you.

The basic difference between a dentist and an orthodontist is comparable to a regular general doctor versus a specialist. When you go for a physical, for example, if your primary care physician finds something that needs attention from a specialist, they’ll send you to another doctor. If you have an ulcer, then you’ll be sent to a gastroenterologist who specializes in that type of medicine. It’s a similar case with a dentist and orthodontists.

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