Rapids Orthodontics Blog

What’s the difference between a dentist and orthodontist?

March 2021

Dentists and orthodontists: What’s the difference?

In healthcare, it’s pretty easy to distinguish between what a heart surgeon does as compared to a pediatrician; however, people aren’t quite as sure when it comes to the differences between a dentist and an orthodontist. Certainly, both are dental professionals, and yes, teeth are involved, but there are some important differences.

A dentist is a professional who focuses on your day-to-day oral health

A dentist is a professional with four years of undergraduate school, and an additional four years of dental training. They must pass rigorous written and clinical licensing exams to become certified and be able to practice.

Dentists focus on your oral health, eliminating abnormalities, performing restorative work, and teaching patients how to prevent dental disease by proactively brushing and flossing (you do floss, don’t you?). You go to your dentist to have a cavity filled, a tooth repaired or extracted, a crown replaced, and even cosmetic services like teeth whitening. They are generalists, prepared to treat a wide range of common oral problems.

An orthodontist is a professional who specializes in aligning teeth and jaws

An orthodontist is a specialist who has all the training and certification of a dentist, but with an additional two or more years of orthodontic education from a program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.

Your oral health might be quite good (look Mom, no cavities!), yet you may have problems like crowded teeth, gaps between teeth, teeth that stick out, or a jaw that doesn’t align properly. Issues like these may cause gum disease and tooth decay, temporary or ongoing pain and/or a lack of confidence in social situations.

That’s where an orthodontist comes to the rescue!

Your orthodontist helps you achieve a beautiful, confident smile

A beautiful smile is a priceless asset. It lets you be yourself in any situation, flashing a healthy smile that boosts your confidence, relieves anxiety in social settings, and strengthens those all-important personal relationships.

Many people don’t consider it, but a healthy smile provides numerous physical and health benefits as well. The proper alignment of teeth and jaws impacts your overall health and well-being. Your orthodontist knows this and help relieve the pressure, headaches, and pain caused by TMJ, abnormal jaw alignment, crooked teeth and improper bite that can make chewing difficult or cause abnormal wearing of the tooth enamel, or other maladies. But how? We’re glad you asked!

Tools of the trade: Braces and Invisalign® clear aligners

Today, there are more ways than ever to get to your perfect smile and only orthodontics are experts in the most effective and most advanced treatment options. Let’s start with the two most common.

  • Braces
    There are two types: conventional metal braces or ceramic braces. These days, metal braces (what you probably think of when you think of “braces”) are smaller and more comfortable than in days gone by. They are extremely effective at quickly treating most orthodontic issues. Ceramic braces are closer to the natural color of your teeth, so they are less noticeable as you go about your daily activities. Both are excellent solutions to help achieve a healthy beautiful smile for all ages.
  • Invisalign clear aligners
    This is the stealthiest approach to moving your teeth into the correct position because they are practically invisible. They differ from braces in that your orthodontist provides you with a series of clear, custom-fit aligners to gently straighten and shift your teeth into place. This treatment has benefits to you because the aligners are completely removable (temporarily, of course), so that you can eat your favorite foods and properly brush and floss.

Would you like to know more? It’s free!

We’re glad you’re interested in achieving your perfect smile, and we want you to know orthodontic treatment is easier than you may realize. That’s why Rapids Orthodontics offers a free consultation and personalized treatment plan so you can learn about your options. It’s no-cost and no obligation to you, and we’ll make it worth your time.

Your free consultation includes one-on-one time with a Rapids orthodontist. Together we’ll discuss your goals and lifestyle to discover and develop a personalized treatment plan that’s unique to you. During your visit, we’ll take digital X-rays (again, free) and create an iTero® 3D model of your teeth and gums (how cool is that!). We take care of everything in this one visit because we know your time is valuable.

Now that you understand the difference between your dentist and your orthodontist, are you ready to get started? Let’s do it! It's as simple as filling out the free consultation form.


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