MI Smile Journey team

What is the Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist?

Posted on November 16, 2022

When it comes to dental health, many people think of an orthodontist as someone to see for braces and a dentist as someone to see for teeth cleaning. Many people see their dentist regularly, but they may not understand the importance of also seeing an orthodontist regularly. Understanding the role of a dentist and an orthodontist will help you make informed decisions about your dental health and make sure you are taking care of yourself. 

What a Dentist Does

A dentist is a healthcare professional that specializes in oral health. To become a dentist, you have to apply to and be accepted to dentistry school, after completing an undergraduate degree. Dental school lasts for 4 years, after which you are able to practice dentistry. Dentists focus on monitoring dental hygiene and treating teeth and gum issues, including cavities, cracked teeth, decayed teeth, and other issues. Some dentists also provide emergency dental services. They may also offer cosmetic services, such as veneers.

What an Orthodontist Does

An orthodontist is also a dentist, but one with more specialized training. Like a dentist, you need to attend dental school, but unlike a dentist, you also have to complete a specialized orthodontics residency. A residency usually takes 2 to 3 years, for a total of 6 to 7 years of schooling. Once certified, an orthodontist focuses on treating dental abnormalities, such as crooked teeth, overcrowding, and misaligned jaws. Orthodontists use braces, retainers, Invisalign, and other methods to fix any issues they diagnose.

When You Should Visit Them

You should see a dentist once or twice a year. These visits should start around 12 months, or when the first teeth start coming in, and continue for the rest of your life. You should also schedule an appointment if you have tooth pain, bleeding gums, or if you crack any of your teeth. If you have a large number of cavities or other issues, you may have to visit more often to get the damage repaired. The first visit to an orthodontist should occur around age 7 and continue regularly from there on. Depending on what kind of treatment you or your child needs, you may need to visit your orthodontist every 4 to 6 weeks during treatment to get your braces or Invisalign adjusted to properly space out your teeth. You will also need to visit regularly once treatment is finished to make sure that it doesn’t reverse. Your orthodontist will advise you on what the proper schedule for appointments will be, depending on the condition of your teeth.

Understanding the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist and what they do will help you make informed decisions about your health. It is important to visit both regularly in order to have the best dental health possible.

Ready for your first visit to our orthodontics office? Here’s a quick and handy explanation of what to expect!

Start Your Journey Towards
Great Orthodontics With
MI Smile Journey Orthodontics

Saginaw Orthodontics Office
5355 N Colony Dr.
Saginaw, MI
(989) 792-7056

Frankenmuth Orthodontics Office
123 Churchgrove St.
Frankenmuth, MI
(989) 401-5190

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