The Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist
Your family dentist is licensed to provide general dental care. He or she focuses broadly on your overall oral health. For example, general dentists provide preventative care, diagnose and treat tooth decay and gum disease, and perform a wide variety of other procedures. Orthodontists are dentists, who have gone on to complete a two-to-three year orthodontic residency program. They specialize in tooth movement. During orthodontic residency, orthodontists take a variety of didactic and clinical courses on the diagnosis and treatment of malocclusions (i.e., the misalignment of teeth and bites). During residency, most orthodontists also have experience conducting and reviewing research. Because of their specialized training and experience, orthodontists can offer the best treatment modality to address your specific needs.
Both dentists and orthodontists are important to maintaining your overall oral health. To provide you with the best possible care, your orthodontist will often work closely with your general dentist as well as other specialists that you may have, such as periodontists, prosthodontists, and oral surgeons. Your orthodontist will create a customized treatment plan tailored to your goals and oral health needs. Because of their additional training and experience, you should seek care from an orthodontist rather than a general dentist.