The Difference Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist

Welcome to Howard Orthodontics, where your journey to a confident smile begins! Dr. Howard and our team at Willow Street always aim to keep you informed. Today, we’ll shed light on a common question that often arises in the world of oral health: What sets an orthodontist apart from a dentist? Let’s discover the distinctions between these two vital professions and gain a deeper understanding of how they collaborate to keep your smile healthy, stunning, and functional.


Dentists: Guardians of Your Oral Health

When you think of dental care, you likely envision your friendly dentist, the cornerstone of your oral healthcare team. Dentists are your primary oral healthcare providers, offering a broad spectrum of services to ensure the health of your teeth and gums. 


Here are some key aspects of what dentists do:

  • Preventive Care: Dentists emphasize preventive care through regular check-ups, cleanings, and x-rays. These routine appointments are crucial for early issue detection and promoting excellent oral hygiene practices. They also educate patients on the importance of routine dental visits to maintain ideal oral health.
  • Treatment of Dental Problems: Dentists are adept at diagnosing and treating an assortment of dental issues, such as cavities, gum disease, and toothaches. They excel in restorative procedures like fillings, crowns, and root canals, restoring teeth to their full function.
  • Oral Health Education: Dentists educate patients on proper oral care techniques, including brushing, flossing, and dietary choices. They play a pivotal role in teaching patients how to maintain healthy smiles and prevent common dental problems.
  • Cosmetic Dentistry: Some dentists offer cosmetic services like teeth whitening and veneers to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your smile. They help patients achieve the smile of their dreams by addressing issues like stained or misshapen teeth.
  • Oral Surgery: While most oral surgeries are performed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons, dentists can handle some minor procedures, such as tooth extractions. They ensure that extractions are done with precision and care to minimize discomfort and complications.


Orthodontists: Sculptors of Your Ideal Smile

Orthodontists are dental specialists who focus on aligning teeth and jaws. They undergo additional education and training to become experts in orthodontics. 


Here’s an in-depth look at what orthodontists do:

  • Braces and Aligners: Orthodontists are renowned for their expertise in straightening teeth and rectifying bite issues. They prescribe and oversee treatments like traditional braces, clear aligners (such as Invisalign), and other orthodontic appliances. By customizing treatment plans, they ensure patients achieve beautifully aligned smiles.
  • Customized Treatment Plans: Orthodontists craft personalized treatment plans tailored to each patient’s unique needs. These plans outline the steps required to achieve a perfectly aligned smile. They carefully evaluate patients’ dental records, conduct thorough examinations, and use advanced technology like digital impressions to create precise treatment strategies.
  • Regular Monitoring: Throughout the course of treatment, orthodontists diligently monitor your progress and make necessary adjustments to ensure your teeth and bite align correctly. They schedule periodic check-ups to track changes, address concerns, and maintain the trajectory toward your desired smile.
  • Treatment for All Ages: While orthodontic treatment is often associated with adolescents, adults can benefit from it as well. Orthodontists offer solutions for patients of all ages, recognizing that age should not be a barrier to achieving a confident and healthy smile.
  • Orthodontic Appliances: In addition to traditional braces and clear aligners, orthodontists use a variety of appliances, such as retainers and expanders, to achieve the desired results. These appliances are tailored to each patient’s specific orthodontic needs and treatment goals.


The Difference Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist

The Collaborative Approach: Fostering Your Smile’s Well-being

Now that we’ve examined the individual roles of dentists and orthodontists, it’s vital to recognize that these professionals frequently collaborate to provide holistic oral healthcare. 


Here’s how their teamwork benefits you:

  • Oral Health Foundation: Dentists establish a robust oral health foundation by addressing issues like cavities and gum disease. Prior to commencing orthodontic treatment, it’s imperative to ensure your teeth and gums are in prime condition. Dentists conduct comprehensive examinations and hygiene appointments, ensuring that your oral health is optimal before orthodontic intervention.
  • Orthodontic Referrals: Dentists may refer patients to orthodontists if they identify alignment or bite issues that require specialized care. Orthodontists then step in to formulate a tailored treatment plan. Our collaborative method ensures that patients receive the most suitable and effective treatment for their specific needs.
  • Post-Orthodontic Care: Following orthodontic treatment, patients return to their dentist for ongoing oral health maintenance. This entails regular check-ups, cleanings, and any necessary restorative work. Dentists ensure that the teeth remain healthy and well-maintained after orthodontic appliances are removed, preserving the results of orthodontic treatment.
  • Holistic Care: The combined efforts of dentists and orthodontists guarantee that patients receive all-encompassing care, addressing both functional and aesthetic aspects of their smiles. This comprehensive approach enhances the overall well-being and satisfaction of patients, allowing them to enjoy healthy, beautiful smiles for years to come.


The Difference Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist

Your Path to a Radiant, Healthy Smile

Grasping the roles of dentists and orthodontists is pivotal for maintaining your oral health. While dentists concentrate on overall oral well-being, orthodontists specialize in aligning teeth and rectifying bite issues. Dr. Howard and the team at Howard Orthodontics on Willow Street are wholeheartedly dedicated to delivering individualized care to enhance your smile and overall oral health.

Whether you require orthodontic treatment to perfect your smile or general dental care to sustain your oral health, we are here to offer tailor-made solutions that align with your unique needs. Schedule a free consultation with us today to take the first step toward achieving a healthier, more self-assured version of yourself. For the latest updates, tips, and insights on preserving a stunning smile and optimal oral health, follow us on Facebook and Instagram!