What’s the Difference Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist?
In 2010 the Canadian Dental Association reported that there were 19,563 licensed dentists in Canada (this number is probably a lot higher in 2016).
Of these, only 735 were orthodontic specialists. That’s a small number! Every year, there are only 12-14 spots in the entire country for dentist to apply to become orthodontist. In general, orthodontists and dentists work together to look after your oral health, but when it comes to your bite and straightening your teeth, it is essential to see an orthodontist to get the best treatment. After all, you wouldn’t go to your family doctor for heart surgery.
Reasons to see an orthodontist include:
- Boosting your self-esteem – an orthodontist can give you the attractive smile you always wanted.
- Only an orthodontist can properly align teeth, jaws and lips, alleviating or preventing physical health problems that may lead to tooth decay, gum disease, bone destruction and chewing and digestive difficulties – and studies show even heart disease.
- Only an orthodontist can treat a “bad bite” which contributes to speech impairments, tooth loss and chipped teeth and other concerns.
What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a specialized branch of dentistry. An orthodontist is an expert in the diagnosing, preventing and treating dental and facial irregularities, or “malocclusion,” which means “bad bite.” Orthodontists are skilled in treatments that will bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment. Orthodontics is not only for cosmetic purposes, but also treats and prevents physical health problems related to facial, jaw and tooth misalignment. Orthodontics can prevent bone destruction, chewing and digestive problems as well as headaches, speech impairments, tooth loss and chipped teeth due to a bad bite.
How Does an Orthodontist’s Training Differ from a Dentist’s?
In Canada, orthodontic specialists must first attend college or university (4 years). Once complete, they must then complete a four year graduate program at a dental school in a university. On top of this, orthodontists must also complete an additional three years while they specialize.
After approximately 11 years of school and training (and you thought your school days were long!) orthodontic graduates will have received training in such topics as genetics, embryology and human growth and development. They really know how the entire body works in relation to your mouth, jaw and teeth.
Why Should you see an Orthodontist for Braces and Invisalign?
Orthodontics is about what you can’t see. Yes, we know traditional braces and Invisalign will straighten your teeth and improve your smile cosmetically—but only an orthodontist has the education and training to not only make you look great, but to also diagnose and treat problems that aren’t visible and may cause discomfort and health problems down the road. A dentist, in comparison, would not be as well-versed, experienced or trained in the correction of dental and facial irregularities. Only orthodontists are specialists when it comes to moving teeth, diagnosing jaw development issues and in making sure the teeth stay in the desired position.