Orthodontist vs. Dentist: What is the Difference?

Both orthodontists and dentists are responsible for keeping your teeth healthy and beautiful. But sometimes it can be confusing to know the difference between the two and which one you should see for certain types of treatment. Your oral health plays a pivotal role in your overall health, and it’s helpful to know the different services an orthodontist and dentist provide so you can find the help you need right when you need it.

Learn more about the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist and find out how Houston Orthodontic Specialists can provide you with high-quality orthodontic treatments in Bellaire and West Houston, TX.

What Does a Dentist Do?

Dentistry is a branch of medicine that is primarily focused on preventing and treating conditions in your teeth, gums, and oral nerves. Dentists are general practitioners who provide guidance and services related to the overall health of your mouth. In addition to routine cleanings, they work to prevent, diagnose, and treat cavities and oral diseases.

Some of the most common services provided by dentists include:

  • Routine teeth cleaning
  • Cavity filling
  • Tooth extraction
  • Root canals
  • Veneers
  • Crowns

These dental treatments are essential for maintaining healthy teeth and, in some cases, resolving issues that could lead to serious impacts on your overall health.

What Does an Orthodontist Do?

While dentistry is a more general practice, orthodontics is a specialized area within dentistry that focuses on straightening your teeth and correcting alignment issues. All orthodontists are dentists that have completed additional schooling that certifies them to practice orthodontics too.

Think of it this way: all orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists.

Orthodontists use appliances like Invisalign® and braces to address a wide range of orthodontic conditions, including, but not limited to:

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

There are a few things to keep in mind that orthodontists don’t do. These include:

  • Cleanings
  • Oral surgery
  • Pulling teeth
  • Dentures

If you’re looking to straighten your smile, at Houston Orthodontic Specialists, we proudly offer a variety of orthodontic treatment options for kids, teens, and adults to help you do exactly that.

Orthodontist vs. Dentist Education and Training

While education and training are crucial for any medical professional, it’s especially important for specialized practitioners, like orthodontists, to hone their skills in their specific field.

Orthodontists and dentists complete the same four years of general dental education, but orthodontists then pursue additional education. This specialized orthodontic training provides an in-depth focus on properly moving teeth and aligning jaws in both children and adults. Along with this additional education, orthodontists must complete a residency of two-to-three years and 5,000 hours of practical training.

Even once they’re certified and practicing, highly skilled orthodontists will join professional organizations that advance the doctors’ skills and expertise. Especially in today’s world where technology is always changing and progressing, it’s more important than ever to everyone on our team at Houston Orthodontic Specialists to stay at the forefront of best practices in the industry. Our Greater Houston orthodontists, Dr. Tabakman, Dr. Bloome, and Dr. Mount are members of the American Association of Orthodontists among other organizations including:

Dr. Mount has even got his board certification from the American Board of Orthodontics, an achievement only 25% of orthodontists reach in their careers.

Should I See a Dentist or an Orthodontist?

If you find yourself asking whether you should see a dentist or an orthodontist, it really comes down to what treatment you’re seeking.

Patients should visit a dentist for routine check-ups and cleanings. Dentists can also treat oral pain, tooth decay, gum disease, cavities, and other similar conditions. It’s recommended to visit the dentist twice a year, or every six months, to maintain oral health. During your check-up, your dentist may notice crooked teeth or bite alignment issues, and in that case, they should refer you to an orthodontist.

You don’t have to wait for a referral from a dentist, though, to seek orthodontic treatment. If you notice your teeth are crooked, gapped, or misaligned, you can find a family orthodontist near you for a complimentary consultation exam. Orthodontists don’t perform cleanings, oral surgery, or pull teeth, however, so you should consult your dentist for their recommendation for these procedures.

While some general dentists do offer orthodontic treatment services, especially clear aligners like Invisalign, we always recommend seeking treatment from a certified orthodontist to ensure you receive the best possible care to meet your specific needs.

Find the Care You Need at Houston Orthodontic Specialists

Here at Houston Orthodontic Specialists, we have a highly skilled team dedicated to providing high-quality orthodontic treatment you can trust. Whether you’re looking for braces or Invisalign, or you aren’t quite sure which treatment is best for you, we’re here to help. Schedule a complimentary consultation to get started at one of our orthodontic offices in Bellaire or West Houston, Texas.

Our Blog