Skip to Content

Orthodontist vs Dentist: The Main Differences

In the world of modern dentistry, there are now several different specialisms you can call upon when it comes to looking after your teeth. But, how do you know which one is best for your particular needs? Here is a quick guide to all you need to know about the differences between an orthodontist and a dentist.

What Does an Orthodontist Do?

An orthodontist in Stockport will provide very similar services to a dentist but with one crucial difference: a qualified dentist must undertake further training, usually a three-year postgraduate course to Masters or Doctorate level, in order to become a fully qualified orthodontist. The training and study will often be carried out in hospitals and university dental schools.

Orthodontists specialize in the development and aesthetics of the alignment of the teeth and jaws using non-surgical procedures.

For instance, in cases where there is a misalignment of the teeth or jaw, an overbite or underbite, overcrowded teeth or gaps in the teeth, an orthodontist can decide on the best course of treatment to strengthen and correct your teeth; while retaining or improving the correct function of the mouth and jaw.

Other orthodontic services include:

  • Wires or retainers;
  • Braces;
  • Invisalign;
  • Any other necessary corrective appliances;
  • Tooth extractions.

What Does a Dentist Do?

A dentist is responsible for the general care of your teeth and gums. He or she can diagnose problems and take x-rays, either initially to gain an overall picture of the health of your teeth and gums or as part of a treatment program.

Dental treatments range from routine checkups, cleaning and filling teeth to more complex root canal work, repairing problems with the teeth and taking impressions as a precursor to fitting dentures or bridges.

A dentist can also offer advice on how to take care of your teeth at home. Other treatments provided by a dentist include:

  • Crowns;
  • Veneers;
  • Tooth whitening;
  • Gum care;
  • Removing tooth decay;
  • Tooth extractions.

Similar But Different

There are a great many similarities between dentistry and orthodontics, and indeed both are dedicated to helping patients improve and maintain their oral health.

While dentists spend many years studying for dental qualifications, orthodontists gain dental qualifications and then go on to further study in order to specialize.

So basically an orthodontist is already a dentist, while a dentist is not an orthodontist. In many cases, both dentists and orthodontists will work together in the same practices.

Which is Best for You?

If you have a toothache or a chipped tooth, or you are suffering from sore and bleeding gums, then the first port of call will be your dentist. He or she can offer treatment to correct and remedy these problems, as well as a broad spectrum of other issues.

When you need a checkup, your dentist is the one who will examine the health of your teeth and mouth to determine whether any treatment is required. If you decide to have dentures, veneers or bridges, your dentist can prepare you by taking impressions of your teeth before sending these to a technician.

If you are thinking of getting an overall improvement to your smile and your appearance, then your orthodontist is the person who can help you.

Whether you need a gap between your teeth filling or you need a more comprehensive alteration and correction to crooked teeth, you should make an appointment to see an orthodontic specialist. More serious issues with the mouth and jaw, such as temporomandibular disorders or misalignments which can be very painful and quite debilitating, are also within the scope of the orthodontist.