Smiling mother and her little son visiting dentist

Did you know that tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body? It scores a five on the Mohs hardness scale, which means it’s even stronger than steel.

Despite that, dental issues are fairly common. Take cavities, for instance, they affect more than 90% of American adults.

Orthodontic problems (e.g. spacing, crowding) are relatively common as well. Fortunately, they’re all treatable. If anything, you just have to go to the right professional.

Should you go to a dentist or an orthodontist? What do orthodontists do?

Find out the answers by reading our dentist vs orthodontist guide below!

What Is a Dentist?

Dentists are health care professionals that specialize in oral health. More specifically, they’re trained to diagnose and treat problems of the teeth, gums, and mouth. For example, they can help those with cavities, fractured teeth, sensitive teeth, or bad breath.

They do this by using various equipment such as lasers, drills, scalpels, and other tools. They also use x-rays to visualize issues that are nearly impossible to detect with the naked eye such as impacted teeth.

Not only that, but they can also help detect early signs of oral cancer during a routine exam.

What Is an Orthodontist?

Orthodontists are dental specialists that are trained in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of teeth abnormalities (find out more). For example, they can help those with bite problems such as an underbite or an overbite. They also provide treatment options for missing, crooked, or protruding teeth.

This is usually done with fixed and removable dental devices such as braces, bands, and retainers, all of which must be worn for a certain period of time.

That’s not all; they can also bring your jaw into alignment. Take braces, for instance, they can help bring the jaw back into a more favorable position.

Orthodontist vs Dentist: Who Should You See?

If anything, you can think of dentists as ‘general practitioners’ and orthodontists as specialists. The former is for standard dental issues such as tooth pain, tooth decay, and gum disease while the latter is for tooth crowding, jaw malocclusion, and other orthodontic problems.

Depending on the situation, your dentist may also refer you to an orthodontist. It’s also recommended that all children be assessed by a specialist before the age of seven to see if braces will be necessary.

For adults with crooked teeth or jaw misalignment, however, you can consider skipping the dentist altogether and going straight to an orthodontist.

Understanding the Difference Between a Dentist vs Orthodontist

Now you know all about the difference between a dentist vs orthodontist! While they both deal with teeth and gums, their focuses are different. The former covers a wide range of oral health issues while the latter is a specialty within dentistry.

Did you find this guide helpful? We have more health-related posts in the lifestyle section of our blog. Check it out today!

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