The Difference Between an Orthodontist & Dentist

Do you know the distinction between an orthodontist and a dentist? Our orthodontists at North York explain.

What is an Orthodontist?

Orthodontists are experts in dental development and facial growth, including jaw and tooth alignment. The most important job of an orthodontist is to diagnose problems 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 mild to moderate misalignments, they do not usually treat complex cases and only offer 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 first complete dental school. Some graduates will immediately begin practising as dentists. These are referred to as general dentists.

After graduating from dental school, orthodontists will pursue additional training. They will complete an accredited advanced education program in orthodontics before receiving a specialty designation from their province's dental regulatory authority.

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 it difficult to speak and chew, as well as cause uneven wear on your teeth. Clenching or grinding your teeth could also be a problem. Teeth that are crowded, misaligned, or overlapped may be difficult to clean, leading to gum disease, tooth decay, and, in extreme cases, tooth loss.

Orthodontic issues, such as headaches or earaches, may have an impact on your overall physical health.

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 help you achieve a healthier, straighter, and more symmetrical smile by treating malocclusions or misalignments. Correctly aligned teeth may be easier to brush, floss, and clean, which can contribute to better oral health.

Do you have questions about how an orthodontist can help you? Contact our North York orthodontists today.

Your North York Dentist

With years of experience treating the North York community, we strive to a provide positive dental experience for all patients.

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