Facial aesthetics depend on the shape, alignment, and cleanliness of your teeth. Perfectly aligned teeth with sparkling brightness make your smile attractive. Just like billions of others, your facial features and smile are also unique. But if you think your teeth are not in alignment and causing several functional and aesthetical challenges, you can make your crooked, crowded, or misaligned teeth straight with the help of an orthodontist.

Facial appeal and smile might affect your confidence, but it is not just about appearance. An orthodontist can make your smile better by straightening your teeth and keep you away from challenges such as gum disease, tooth decay, and bite issues. But can your family dentist move teeth in the desired direction?

Yes, he can, but only when he has invested some additional years in dental college to learn about the advanced science involved in moving teeth and related structures. A dentist with additional years of training and practice in dental biomechanics and oral anatomy is an orthodontist.

So, if you want to improve your smile and bring teeth in alignment to correct related anomalies, you should ideally consult an orthodontist. He will examine, diagnose your dental structure and recommend suitable orthodontic treatments to help you look and feel better.

What Does an Orthodontist Do?

The dental structure is very complex and multilayered and requires a deep understanding of oral anatomy and biomechanics. Both general dentists and orthodontists are trained to diagnose, prevent, and treat dental conditions related to teeth, gums, tongue, and mouth, but orthodontist specializes in correcting teeth and jaw misalignments to improve dental functionality and aesthetics.

So when you are consulting orthodontists, he will diagnose your dental structure using advanced diagnostic tools like X-rays and CT scans. Following diagnosis, he will discuss dental irregularities and possible treatment options with you. He will recommend the best treatment suitable for you to help you smile with confidence.

An orthodontist uses suitable orthodontic devices such as braces, aligners, retainers, implants, bridges, veneers to move teeth in the desired direction and keep them in the right position and shape. The selection of devices depends on the dental anomaly, complexity, and of course suitability. By using these devices the orthodontist can treat dental abnormalities, like:

  • Misaligned teeth of varying complexity level
  • Crooked teeth
  • Dental overcrowding
  • Bite issues, crossbite, over and underbite
  • Gaps between teeth
  • Correct temporomandibular disorders
  • Speech improvisation

It takes time to move teeth biomechanically using suitable orthodontic devices. At the end of the treatment, your teeth will be in better alignment, meaning they will be in the right shape and position to ensure better bite, smooth eating, and of course, a straight smile. Thanks to advancements made in orthodontic device design and development, now these tools are much more subtle. Unlike in the past, you won’t feel self-conscious while wearing the device during the treatment. A trained orthodontist will ensure a comfortable dental cosmetic improvisation journey.

What Kind of Treatment Dentists Provide?

In general dentistry, a dentist is trained to maintain and improve oral health and treat related ailments. You can expect your dentist to offer these treatments:

  • Treat teeth decay
  • Treat gum diseases, like gingivitis
  • Teeth cleaning and whitening
  • Cavity filling
  • Missing teeth restoration
  • Root canals treatment
  • Treat dental crowns
  • Bridges treatment
  • Veneers treatment

Interestingly, a trained orthodontist can provide you all the treatments that a dentist can. If your goal is to correct the shape and position of your teeth, you should better consult an orthodontist, otherwise, your dentist is well-trained to keep your teeth and gum in good health. A professional dentist will refer you to an orthodontist if your misaligned teeth are affecting your oral health.

What is the Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist?

It is pretty normal for you, just like anyone else, to get confused by medical terminologies. So, when you hear about orthodontists, be clear that dentists and orthodontists are not the same as an orthodontist is professionally trained to do something more than just oral care. The fundamental difference lies in being a generalist and specialist. General dentistry is a broad medical specialty, within which orthodontists deal with correcting teeth and jaws misalignment issues. Besides oral health covering gums, teeth, jaws, and nerves, orthodontists improve dental aesthetics and smile cosmetically using suitable treatments and tools.

What is the Similarity?

Academically, both dentist and orthodontist are similar, taught, and trained to treat oral ailments and irregularities. Both are dental professionals to help you maintain and improve oral and dental functionalities. Your dentist will make sure your teeth, gums, and jaws remain healthy by offering quality care and treatments. An orthodontist, although trained to keep your oral cavity healthy, will focus more on correcting misalignments to make your look and smile better.

How Dentists and Orthodontists are Different?

In simple terms all orthodontists are dentists, but all dentists are not orthodontists. Meaning, a dentist has to invest additional years in studying the dental structure and oral biomechanics in more detail so that he could move teeth in the desired direction using suitable devices. Here are some of the main differences between a dentist and an orthodontist:

Qualifications & Memberships

To be a dentist one needs to be an undergraduate to apply and pass the Dental Admission Test. Qualified candidates get admission to an accredited dental school and spend four years in dental school and some years in residency, before obtaining the license to practice. Similarly, orthodontists also need to complete dental school and 2-3 years in an accredited orthodontic residency program. On finishing the residency, one has to pass the National Board Dental Exam to start practicing as an orthodontist. In some states, a practicing license might require passing the additional state exam. From the perspective of membership, most of the practicing orthodontists are members of the American Dental Association and the American Board of Orthodontists.

Treatments & Services

A dentist is trained to offer oral care and treat teeth, gums, jaws, and nerves related ailments. In most cases, dentists offer teeth cleaning and whitening, cavity filling, and tooth extraction services, along with some treatments to make your teeth look beautiful. Orthodontists offer you more than just general dentistry. He specializes in correcting anatomical irregularity of teeth and jaws using suitable orthodontic devices. Moving teeth requires a thorough understanding of oral biomechanics, so it is better to consult an orthodontist for quality smile solutions.

Experience & Training

Your dentist will examine the dental system and identify irregularities using suitable diagnostic tools. If required, he will refer you to an orthodontist for further diagnosis and treatment. It all depends on complexity and expectation, if your goal is to straighten a smile, then an orthodontist will help you achieve the goal effortlessly. It is not just about correcting teeth alignment using braces, but suitable braces or aligners to achieve the goal with minimum discomfort. An orthodontist specializes in facial profile evaluation, so he will recommend a suitable corrective procedure based on the detailed analysis of your facial symmetry.

Reasons to See an Orthodontist

Most people see an orthodontist on the recommendation of a dentist to bring misaligned teeth in the right position. If there is a size difference between lower and upper jaws, or between teeth and jaws, resulting in bite, speech, or smile irregularities you will need an orthodontist to correct misalignment. Whether you have crooked or overcrowded teeth, a misshapen jaw, unusual gaps between teeth, or bite irregularity such as over, under, or crossbite, your orthodontist might recommend these treatments:

Braces or Dental Appliances

The dental structure is highly complex and functional efficacy depends on dental alignment. Orthodontist examines dental and jaw spacing and recommends suitable orthodontic tools to create subtle for moving teeth in the desired direction. It all depends on suitability, so he might recommend metal, ceramic, plastic braces, or clear aligners depending on your aesthetic preferences. Whether you opt for traditional braces comprising wires, brackets, and springs or clear aligners like Invisalign, the goal is to move teeth in the right position so that your aesthetic appeal could be improved. He might recommend using retainers, headgears, and other orthodontic tools to help you retain teeth in the right position and help you smile with confidence forever.

Surgical Corrections

If you have a severe overbite or underbite issue, your orthodontist might recommend corrective surgery to alter the length of the jaw bone. Surgical intervention is required when jaw bone stops growing. Your orthodontist will use screws, wires, or plates to support the jawbone.
Orthodontic procedures are time-taking as the core principle is to use subtle force created by devices to move teeth gradually without causing much discomfort. So, you have to wear braces, whether metallic or clear, for over 12 months to make your smile better.

Takeaway

Teeth misalignments are mostly hereditary, so it is better to get your children examined by an orthodontist before age 7 to prevent future complexity. You should visit your dentist regularly as he is trained to diagnose dental anomalies, and if required, he will refer you to the orthodontist to bring crooked teeth in alignment. If dental irregularities are affecting the normal life of your kid, your insurer might pay for the orthodontic treatments. But if you want to improve aesthetic appeal, then it is better to get in touch with your dental health insurer, as all orthodontic treatments are not covered under normal dental insurance. Smile solutions aren’t cheap, but you can save some money by choosing the right orthodontist, treatment options, and easy financing options.

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Published by Dr. Daniel Bronsky

Dr. Daniel is an orthodontist at Invis London.

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