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The Difference Between an Orthodontist & Dentist

Wondering about the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist? Our Collingwood dentists explain.

What is an Orthodontist?

Orthodontists are dentists that specialize in dental development and facial growth, including alignment of the jaw and teeth. An orthodontist's most important task is to identify issues with your mouth and teeth. 

They are qualified to provide treatments for both moderate and complex orthodontic cases. Treatment options may include traditional metal braces, retainers and clear aligners. In extreme cases, patients may need a palate expander to widen the arch of the upper jaw and give the area more space. Patients with severely misaligned teeth may need to use headgear to pull front teeth back while slowing the growth of an upper jaw. 

Dentists can provide orthodontic treatment for misalignments classified as mild or moderate, however, dentists do not usually treat complex orthodontic cases, and will only provide a limited number of treatment options.

Qualifications & Training

The Canadian Dental Association recognizes nine dental specialties, including orthodontics. In order to qualify as a dentist, one must graduate dental school. Some graduates will then go on to practice as dentists immediately. We call these general dentists.

Orthodontists continue their training after graduating from dental school. They will complete an accredited advanced education program in orthodontics, then attain a specialty designation from the provincial dental regulatory authority in their province.

What makes orthodontics & dentistry different from each other?

Your general dentist cares for your routine dental health care needs, whereas your orthodontist attends to all of your specific orthodontic needs.

Typically you’ll see your dentist for regular dental cleanings and examinations, in addition to restorations and treatments such as dental crowns, bridges, fillings, root canals, and in some cause mild to moderate orthodontic treatment.

Most orthodontists do not provide preventive or restorative dental care. Instead, they focus on helping to straighten their patients’ teeth and improve jaw alignment. 

Why should I get orthodontic treatment?

Although orthodontics are known best for their ability to improve the look of your smile, there are also a number of oral health benefits that can be achieved through straighter teeth.

A bad bite can make speaking and chewing challenging, and cause uneven wear on your teeth. Clenching or grinding of your teeth may also be an issue. Teeth that are crowded, misaligned or overlapped may be difficult to clean, resulting in gum disease, tooth decay, and potentially even loss of teeth.

Orthodontic issues may also have consequences for your overall physical health, such as headaches or earaches. 

Depending on the patient's condition, an orthodontist or dentist can effectively diagnose the issue and may even be able to correct it with early intervention. Addressing the problem will include a customized orthodontic treatment plan, and a device to correct the problem such as braces, a retainer, clear aligners or other measures.

Orthodontic treatment can help to correct dental issues for patients of almost any age. Today more and more adults are choosing to undergo orthodontic treatment in an effort to help straighten their teeth. 

Do you have questions about how orthodontic treatment can help to transform your smile? Contact our Collingwood orthodontists today.

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Looking for a dentist in Collingwood? We're happily welcoming new patients at our dental clinic! Contact us to get started today. 

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