Today, our orthodontists outline the key differences between general dentists and orthodontists, and explain when a visit to an orthodontist might be in order.
What is an orthodontist?
Orthodontists are specialists in facial growth and dental development, including tooth and jaw alignment.
They are qualified to provide treatment for moderate to complex orthodontic cases. Treatments provided by orthodontists include retainers, clear aligners and traditional (metal) braces.
While some dentists do provide orthodontic treatment for mild or moderate misalignments, they do not typically treat complex cases, and only provide a limited number of treatment options.
Qualifications & Training
Orthodontics is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the Canadian Dental Association.
To become a dentist, you must go to dental school. Some dental school graduates go on to practice as dentists immediately, and these are general dentists.
To become an orthodontist in Canada, dental school graduates must complete an accredited advanced education program in orthodontics in addition to dental school. Once they have completed this program, they will attain a specialty designation from the Provincial Dental Regulatory Authority in their province.
Differences in Practice
Your general dentist will take care of your routine dental health care needs. These include regular dental cleanings and examinations, as well as restorations and treatments like dental fillings, root canals, crowns, bridges, and more.
As you might expect, your orthodontist will see to all of your specific orthodontic needs. Most orthodontists do not provide the routine dental care that general dentists do, and focus primarily on straightening their patients' teeth.
Why Get Orthodontic Treatment?
While orthodontics can help improve the appearance of your smile, there are many health benefits, too.
Overlapping, misaligned or crowded teeth can be difficult to clean, and this can result in tooth decay, gum disease, and even tooth loss. A bad bite can make chewing and talking difficult, and it can also cause uneven tooth wear, grinding, and clenching.
An orthodontist can treat your misalignments and help you achieve a healthier, more symmetrical smile.