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The Difference Between an Orthodontist & Dentist

Do you know the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist? Our orthodontists at Grande Prairie explain.

What is an Orthodontist?

Orthodontists specialize in dental development and facial growth, including alignment of the jaw and teeth. An orthodontist's most important task is to identify issues with your mouth and teeth. 

They are qualified to treat both moderate and complex cases of orthodontics. Traditional metal braces, retainers, and clear aligners are all possible treatment options. In severe cases, a palate expander may be required to widen the arch of the upper jaw and provide more space. Patients with severely misaligned teeth may need to wear headgear to pull their front teeth back and slow their upper jaw's growth.

While some dentists do provide orthodontic treatment for misalignments classified as mild or moderate, they would not usually treat complex cases, and will only provide a limited number of treatment options.

Qualifications & Training

Orthodontics is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the Canadian Dental Association. To work as a dentist, you must first complete dental school. Some graduates will go on to work as dentists right away. These are what we refer to as general dentists.

Orthodontists will take more training after graduating from dental school. They will complete an accredited advanced education program in orthodontics, then attain a specialty designation from the provincial dental regulatory authority in their province.

What are the differences in practice between orthodontics & dentistry?

While your general dentist cares for your routine dental health care needs, your orthodontist attends to all of your specific orthodontic needs.

You’ll go to your dentist for regular dental cleanings and examinations, in addition to restorations and treatments such as dental crowns, bridges, fillings, root canals, and more.

Most orthodontists will not provide this routine or restorative care. Instead, they focus primarily on helping to straighten their patients’ teeth and improving jaw alignment. 

Why should I get orthodontic treatment?

While orthodontics can help improve the look of your smile, there can also be many benefits for your oral health.

A bad bite can make speaking and chewing challenging, and cause uneven wear on your teeth. Clenching or grinding of your teeth may also be an issue. Teeth that are crowded, misaligned or overlapped may be difficult to clean, resulting in gum disease, tooth decay, and potentially even loss of teeth.

Orthodontic issues may also have consequences for your overall physical health, such as headaches or earaches. 

An orthodontist can effectively diagnose the issue and may even be able to correct it with early intervention, depending on the patient's condition. He or she may also create a personalized orthodontic treatment plan that includes braces, a retainer, clear aligners, or other options. Orthodontists can treat patients of any age, and more adults are opting for orthodontic treatment to help straighten their teeth these days.

An orthodontist can treat malocclusions or misalignments, and help you achieve a healthier, straighter and more symmetrical smile. Correctly aligned teeth can contribute to improved oral health, as they may be easier to brush, floss and clean.

Do you have questions about how an orthodontist can help you? Contact our Grande Prairie orthodontists today.

New Patients Always Welcome

Looking for a orthodontist in Grande Prairie? We're happily accepting new patients at our orthodontic clinic! Contact us to get started today. 

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