What’s the difference between a Dentist and an Orthodontist? 3 ways to tell.

What’s the difference between a Dentist and an Orthodontist? 3 ways to tell.

We’ve never seen anyone consider braces without first asking lots of questions. Questions like,  “how is an orthodontist different from a dentist.” “Does it matter if I go to a dentist vs. an orthodontist for braces?” Let’s get some answers. 

1. Orthodontists are dentists, but dentists are not orthodontists

Dentists and orthodontists are similar in that they both work in the mouth. But, an orthodontist is a specialist, who is a type of doctor with special focus. Both have completed undergrad at a 4 year college and a 4 year dental doctoral program. However, orthodontists spend an additional 2-3 years of residency focusing specifically on tooth movement and jaw/facial development. Would you rather entrust your teeth and jawline to someone with the extra 2-3 years of specialty training or go to the generalist? 

2. Orthodontists are specialists in craniofacial development

Craniofacial development is the scientific term for how our faces grow over time. A careful consideration of a child’s physiological development must underpin every orthodontic solution.  The science of orthodontics guides jaw and tooth position. I always get a better result when orthodontic therapy is used in a growing patient because I can use a patient’s growth to help get the jaws and teeth in the positions I want.

“I always get a better result when orthodontic therapy is used in a growing patient because I can use a patient’s growth to help get the jaws and teeth in the positions I want.” Dr. Piper

3. Orthodontists are specialists in moving teeth and aligning jaws

A dentist’s primary focus is tooth health, gum care, fillings, crowns, root canals, and other oral health concerns. Tooth movement and jaw or facial growth are not their primary focus. This is also why your family dentist shouldn’t and probably won’t handle orthodontics for you. Similar to other areas of medical expertise, you wouldn’t go to your general practitioner for sinus surgery. Your doctor would send you to an ear, nose and throat specialist for that. It’s the same with dentists and orthodontists: your dentist should refer you to an orthodontist for braces.

We work hard to ensure that all of our patients feel comfortable and understand each step of their treatment. If you have additional questions about the difference between dentists and orthodontists or any other questions, please do not hesitate to let us know. It would be our honor to serve you!

Jill Piper
piperworld@aol.com
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