Should You See an Orthodontist or a Dentist?

You can’t ignore the symptoms any longer and you know that a trip to talk about your options for braces is inevitable. You may be wondering who you should turn to for help. After all, an orthodontist and a dentist both have similar training, right? Do you stick to your regular dentist or see a specialist? These are questions that plague many patients.

Should you see an orthodontist or a dentist for braces? Let’s break down your options.

What Is an Orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dentist who has undergone specialized training in a specific type of dental care, called orthodontia. The key focus of an orthodontist is to straighten the teeth to help alleviate common issues, such as mouth pain, trouble chewing or biting, or more serious issues, such as jaw misalignment. An orthodontist diagnoses and corrects the following issues:

  • Overbites, underbites and crossbites
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Crowding and spacing issues
  • Jaw issues

Seeing an orthodontist is different from seeing a dentist, as an orthodontist has a specialized skill set for diagnosing and fixing common dental issues that are beyond the scope of a general dentist.

Why See an Orthodontist for Braces?

Since an orthodontist receives specialized training to diagnose and treat problems affecting the alignment of the teeth, they’re your best bet for correcting these issues. An orthodontist doesn’t just have more training than a dentist in this particular area of oral health, they also take part in ongoing training to stay up to date on the latest breakthroughs in oral healthcare. Because of this, orthodontists can choose the best option to correct your issue, including traditional braces or aligners, such as Invisalign.

The Difference Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist

You can think of dentistry as a broader field, dealing with overall oral health, including the teeth, gums, jaw and nerves. A dentist generally provides the following to patients:

  • Tooth extraction
  • Filling cavities
  • Repairing teeth
  • Removing tooth decay
  • Root canals
  • Gum care

The list goes on, as dentists also provide advice on proper nutrition that can affect the health of your teeth and gums. A dentist can also alert you to issues they notice in routine exams that can pinpoint a need to see an orthodontist. Many dentists refer their patients to orthodontists to treat issues that are beyond their scope of practice.

Dentistry vs. Orthodontics

Your dentist and your orthodontist work hand in hand. It’s important to remember that even if you are referred to an orthodontist, you should not stop seeing your general dentist. They are not one in the same, as your general dentist will need to still evaluate your overall oral health, during and after your treatment by an orthodontist. Your orthodontist is there to help correct an issue affecting your teeth, while your dentist is there to keep your teeth and gums healthy throughout your entire life.