Is a Dentist also an Orthodontist?
Your confusion is understandable, after all, dentists and orthodontists both work with teeth. Both went to dental school and give professional treatment to individuals to assist them in maintaining good oral health. Your dentist could even provide orthodontics treatments, causing you to believe they are an orthodontist. However, just placing aligners or braces does not qualify a practitioner as an orthodontist.
Dentists, usually known as general dentists, deal with the entire health of the mouth. Dentists repair cavities in teeth and remove failing teeth (extractions). They often provide services like veneers, crowns, or bonding to enhance the look and functionality of dental that have considerable decay, are malformed, or are damaged. Dentists examine patients' mouths for abnormalities and teach them how to prevent teeth disease.
Regardless of how informed and skilled dentists are, certain fields of dental medicine have an education that extends beyond dental school. One of these fields is orthodontics. That's when professionals like orthodontia experts step in.
Dental specialists become specialists after finishing four years of basic dental training in dental school and then proceeding to a recognized program for two to three years, where they pursue their specialized expertise full-time. When dentists pursuing a specialty successfully finish their official specialty school, they are granted the right to use the title that identifies their field of concentration. One example is orthodontics.
Other dental professionals include periodontists, who treat gum disease, endodontists, who deal with root canals; pediatric dentists, who treat patients under the age of 21; and maxillofacial and oral surgeons, who perform operations on the face, mouth, and jaw. Orthodontia experts are dentists who specialize in the bite:
- how teeth function and meet, how they are positioned
- how they are fixed in the jaws
- how the lower and upper jaws are positioned and sized.
General dentists are permitted to practice. Some states permit them to give special treatment even if they have not had official post-dental college training in the field. A dentist, for example, may be competent to conduct a root canal, but this does not imply that they are an endodontist. A dentist can extract a molar, but that doesn't make them an oral surgeon. Similarly, just because a dentist can give aligners or braces to shift teeth does not indicate the dentist is now an orthodontia expert. Only orthodontics experts have completed more than two years of orthodontia study from a program approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, giving them specific training in tooth movement.
To distinguish between an orthodontia expert and a regular dentist, be mindful of the doctor's:
- Dentists and dental experts complete dental school.
- A dental specialist studies full-time in a recognized program in their specialty field for two to three years after graduating from dentistry school. Following graduation, a dental specialist may use a title to signify their specific training (e.g., orthodontia expert)
- General dentists are authorized to give general treatment and, in some regions, specialty care even if they have not completed rigorous post-dental education classes in an approved residency training.
- Specialists frequently concentrate their work on their dental expertise.
Consider an orthodontist if you are considering orthodontics treatment. Only legitimate orthodontists are eligible to join the American Association of Orthodontists.