There is much confusion about orthodontists and dentists. All dental professionals go to 4 years of dental school to become dentists and have the knowledge and skillset to treat a wide range of dental issues. However, some dental students decide to continue their education after dental school. These dental specialists complete an additional 2 to 3 years of rigorous schooling and clinical training where they focus solely on an area of specialty and become experts in their field.
Dentists are like your primary care physician. They manage your general dental health and maintain the health of your teeth, gums, and supporting structures. Regular exams allow them to monitor potential problems and diagnose dental issues that need to be taken care of. They are able solve a wide range of dental problems, however, if they encounter something more serious, they should refer to the proper dental specialist just as your primary care physician would refer you to a cardiologist for your heart problems.
Orthodontists specialize in the alignment of the teeth and jaws, taking into consideration the profile of lips and face. They look at more than just how straight your teeth are and restore the teeth and jaws to the proper position, allowing them to function properly so you can eat, talk, and breathe better. Since altering the position of the teeth and jaws can change your appearance, orthodontists look at the entire face instead of just the mouth.
It’s important to have an orthodontist take care of your orthodontic needs so that you can be treated by those with the highest level of training and most experience.