Patients sometimes ask us what the difference is between a dentist and an orthodontist. Is it enough to register with a general dentist or should they see an orthodontist instead (or as well)?

A dentist vs orthodontist image. One half of the photo shows a dentist,  in the middle is a "VS" text, and on the right half is a woman showing her braces.

Are Dentists and Orthodontists differently qualified?

It perhaps helps to consider the differences between the fields of dentistry and orthodontics. Dentistry is a broad medical speciality that deals with oral health – specifically your teeth, gums, nerves in the mouth, and jaw – whereas orthodontics is a speciality within dentistry that is concerned with correcting your bite, how your teeth meet together, and the alignment of your teeth.

While all orthodontists are qualified dentists, not all dentists are orthodontists.

In many ways, a dentist is much like a GP in that they have knowledge across their field. A dedicated orthodontist, on the other hand, is like any other medical specialist in that they have had further training and schooling that gives them deeper knowledge within their niche.

What treatments can they carry out?

A dentist will focus on helping you maintain your oral health, prevent problems and address issues that may arise. They are likely to offer restorative treatments such as fillings, root canal work, crowns, bridges, and dentures; they may also offer the services of a dedicated hygienist. Private dentists tend to cover a breadth of cosmetic dental treatments too, including veneers, white fillings, teeth whitening, and dental implants.

Some orthodontists do work in a broader dental setting and offer general and cosmetic dentistry procedures in addition to teeth straightening, whereas as others concentrate on orthodontics exclusively to be able to deal with more complex cases and offer a broader range of teeth straightening options.

Should I visit a dentist or orthodontist?

Most people start out by visiting a general or cosmetic dentist, and are then referred to an orthodontist if it becomes apparent that they would benefit from straighter teeth. If, for example, you’re experiencing headache or jaw problems that could be caused by your bite, your dentist may recommend that you speak to an orthodontist.

However, if you specifically want to discuss issues with your bite and tooth alignment, you don’t have to wait for a referral. You can book an appointment for a consultation with an orthodontist yourself.

Our orthodontic centre in Stockport

As a dedicated orthodontist in Stockport, Manchester, we find that focusing exclusively on orthodontic treatment gives us the opportunity to stay at the cutting-edge of what’s possible in terms of teeth straightening. We have in-depth knowledge about problems such as TMJ and can tackle complex orthodontic cases that may be beyond the expertise of some dentists.
Neither dentist nor orthodontist is better – but one may be more appropriate than the other at different stages in your life.

If you would like to discuss having straighter teeth and are looking for an orthodontist in the Stockport and Manchester area, give us a call at Heaton Mersey Orthodontic Centre on 0161 947 9900. Or visit our contact page.

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