Dentists and orthodontists have relatively similar training and educational backgrounds, but patients will need to see these professionals for much different reasons. This is why all patients should know about some of the differences between these two types of doctors and a few signs that it might be time to skip the dentist and head straight to the orthodontist.
Both orthodontists and dentists begin their training in a very similar manner. First, both professionals must receive a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university before applying to dental school.
After being accepted, they will then spend around four years in dental school before they are awarded a doctorate. During this time, they will need to carry out rigorous training in and out of the classroom. Upon graduation, they can begin practicing general dentistry.
It is at this point that there are some differences between these two professionals. A dentist that would like to become an orthodontist may need to apply to an orthodontic residency program that has been approved by the American Dental Association. After completing a residency, they will then be recognized by the ADA and the American Board of Orthodontics as an orthodontist.
What Does a Dentist Treat?
A dentist is a medical professional that a patient should visit once or twice a year starting at a young age. Those that practice general dentistry will assist patients with many of the most common preventative treatments such as deep cleaning.
During your checkups, the dentist will most likely inspect your mouth for signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems. Many patients are first recommended to an orthodontist by their family dentist.
During their additional residency program, orthodontists will be trained on how to treat issues with a patient’s bite pattern and jaw. If your dentist has noticed that your teeth are not coming in straight, then they might recommend that you contact an orthodontist.
During your initial appointment, the orthodontist will review your oral health history and thoroughly inspect your teeth and gums. Most patients will also need to have X-rays taken of their teeth, jaw, and skull to find any irregularities.
Signs That You Might Need an Orthodontist
Failing to treat issues involving the alignment of your teeth (malocclusion) will increase your risk of gum disease, tooth decay, cracked teeth, and other forms of damage. Many patients also become self-conscious of their smile due to overcrowding, gaps in their teeth, and other cosmetic issues.
Anyone that has problems eating or speaking should contact the orthodontist for an appointment. This includes unusual popping sounds coming from the jaw, a dull ache, frequent headaches, or sharp pain when chewing.
Orthodontists can provide their patients with a wide variety of treatments to help with issues such as malocclusion and TMJ. Some of the most common orthodontic treatments include metal braces, clear braces, retainers, and more.
Contact Ragan Orthodontics today to get started.