What’s the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?

Both dentists and orthodontists keep your teeth healthy and beautiful, but it’s helpful to know the different functions they perform in your care so you can find the help you need.

Learn more about the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist and find out how Hess Orthodontics can provide you with the top orthodontic service in West Coast Florida.

Schedule your complimentary consultation.

What does a dentist do?

Dentistry is a branch of medicine that focuses on preventing and treating conditions in your teeth, gums, and nerves. They focus on the muscular and vascular systems in your mouth.

Dentists are general practitioners who provide guidance and services related to the overall health of your mouth. Dentists use various treatments to prevent, diagnose, and treat cavities and oral diseases.

Common services dentists provide include:

  • Teeth cleaning
  • Teeth whitening
  • Cavity filling
  • Tooth extraction
  • Root canals
  • Veneers
  • Crowns

These treatments are essential for resolving serious issues and maintaining healthy teeth.

What does an orthodontist do?

Orthodontics is a specialized practice within dentistry that deals with straightening your teeth and correcting alignment issues. All orthodontists are dentists that have completed more schooling that trains them in the specialized field of orthodontics.

Think of it this way: all orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists. Orthodontists specialize in correcting issues related to the straightness of your teeth and alignment of your bite.

Orthodontists use appliances like aligners and braces to address many conditions, including:

  • Misaligned teeth
  • Gapped teeth
  • Crowded teeth
  • Overbites
  • Underbites
  • Crossbites

At Hess Orthodontics, we proudly offer adults and teens many treatment options, including retainers, Damon Braces, and Invisalign® clear aligners.

Schedule your complimentary consultation today to learn which treatment option is right for you!

Orthodontist vs. Dentist education and training

Orthodontists and dentists complete the same four years of general dental education, but orthodontists then undertake additional training. The specialized orthodontic training provides a focus on moving teeth and aligning jaws. The education courses include a residency of two or three years and nearly 5,000 hours of training.

Highly qualified orthodontists will join professional organizations that advance the doctors’ skills. For example, the providers at Hess Orthodontics are members of the American Dental Association, the American Association of Orthodontics, the Southern Association of Orthodontics, the Florida Association of Orthodontics, and more!

Should I see a dentist or an orthodontist?

Patients should visit a dentist for general check-ups and cleanings to maintain dental health. Dentists can also treat tooth decay, gum disease, and other similar conditions. During your check-up, your dentist may notice teeth and bite alignment issues and refer you to an orthodontist.

You don’t have to wait for a referral from a dentist, so you should contact an orthodontist if you suspect your teeth are crooked, gapped, or misaligned. While some dentists advertise orthodontic treatment, you should really only consult with a specially trained orthodontist to ensure you get the best care possible.

At Hess Orthodontics, our priority is providing the best orthodontic care in West Coastal Florida.

Schedule your complimentary consultation today to learn how we can help you achieve a straight and healthy smile!