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The Difference Between an Orthodontist & Dentist

Wondering about the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist? Our Village Orthodontics - Mississauga Square One orthodontists explain.

What is an Orthodontist?

Orthodontists specialize in dental development and facial growth, including alignment of the jaw and teeth. An orthodontist's most important task is to identify issues with your mouth and teeth. 

They are certified to treat both moderate and complex orthodontic cases. Traditional metal braces, retainers, and clear aligners are all treatment options. In severe cases, a palate expander may be required to widen the arch of the upper jaw and provide more space. Patients with severely misaligned teeth may require headgear to pull front teeth back while slowing upper jaw growth.

While some dentists do provide orthodontic treatment for misalignments classified as mild or moderate, they would not usually treat complex cases, and will only provide a limited number of treatment options.

Qualifications & Training

Orthodontics is one of nine dental specialties recognised by the Canadian Dental Association. To become a dentist, one must first complete dental school. Some graduates will immediately begin practising as dentists. These are referred to as general dentists.

Orthodontists will take more training after graduating from dental school. They will complete an accredited advanced education program in orthodontics, then attain a specialty designation from the provincial dental regulatory authority in their province.

What are the differences in practice between orthodontics & dentistry?

While your general dentist cares for your routine dental health care needs, your orthodontist attends to all of your specific orthodontic needs.

You’ll go to your dentist for regular dental cleanings and examinations, in addition to restorations and treatments such as dental crowns, bridges, fillings, root canals, and more.

Most orthodontists will not provide this routine or restorative care. Instead, they focus primarily on helping to straighten their patients’ teeth and improving jaw alignment. 

Why should I get orthodontic treatment?

While orthodontics can help improve the look of your smile, there can also be many benefits for your oral health.

A bad bite can make speaking and chewing challenging, and cause uneven wear on your teeth. Clenching or grinding of your teeth may also be an issue. Teeth that are crowded, misaligned or overlapped may be difficult to clean, resulting in gum disease, tooth decay, and potentially even loss of teeth.

Orthodontic issues may also have consequences for your overall physical health, such as headaches or earaches. 

Depending on the patient's condition, an orthodontist can effectively diagnose the problem and, with early intervention, may even be able to correct it. He or she may also design a personalized orthodontic treatment plan that includes braces, a retainer, clear aligners, and other measures. Orthodontists can also treat patients of any age, and more adults are opting for orthodontic treatment to help straighten their teeth today.

An orthodontist can treat malocclusions or misalignments, and help you achieve a healthier, straighter and more symmetrical smile. Correctly aligned teeth can contribute to improved oral health, as they may be easier to brush, floss and clean.

Do you have questions about how an orthodontist can help you? Contact our Village Orthodontics - Mississauga Square One orthodontists today. Or find a location near you.

Visit a Village Orthodontics Near You

Whether you're considering treatment for yourself or your child, we have an orthodontist waiting for you at one of our seven locations across Ontario.

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