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What Is The Difference Between An Orthodontist And A Dentist?

A dentist and an orthodontist are both oral health care experts. They are in charge of taking care of a person’s hard and soft structures in their oral cavity.

Orthodontists and dentists have the same basic education – a couple of years of undergrad, followed by dental school. Once they’ve graduated dental school, they can become licensed to practice as general dentists.

However, if one chooses to further specialize in the field of orthodontics, they become an orthodontist. This involves further years of training and skill development in diagnosing and treating issues with alignments of your teeth and jaws.

In short, all orthodontists are dentists but not all dentists are orthodontists.

What A Dentist Does

General Dentistry

Similar to doctors, dentists must be exhaustingly trained in their field before they become certified. Around 80% of dentists in the United States are practicing general dentistry.

Their job is to diagnose and treat the issues of your teeth, gums, tongue, surrounding soft tissues, and the mouth.

General dentists offer the following services in their offices –

  • Digital imaging such as X-rays
  • Treating gum disease
  • Professional cleaning
  • Teeth whitening
  • Removing decayed material and filling cavities
  • Tooth extractions
  • Repairing chipped or cracked teeth
  • Bonding teeth
  • Promoting oral health and hygiene
  • Installing dental crowns and/or veneers
  • Performing oral surgeries
  • Prescribing treatment and medication for various oral conditions
  • Overseeing a child’s dental development

What An Orthodontist Does

Orthodontists are dentists who specialize in jaw and tooth alignment. Certified orthodontists are extensively trained to not only diagnose but also treat various conditions of the teeth, gums, and mouth. However, they mainly focus on ensuring that your teeth and jaws are set correctly.

An orthodontist does the following –

  • Supervise the jawline and bite in children.
  • Diagnose and treat teeth and jaws that are misaligned. Also known as malocclusion.
  • Create a treatment plan revolving around braces and retainers
  • Perform surgeries to straighten teeth and jaws
  • Install various corrective dental appliances such as braces, orthodontic headgear, palatal expanders, etc.

An orthodontist not only helps in correcting crooked teeth but also various other issues. Overbites, underbites, crossbites, overcrowding, excessive spaces between teeth, and temporomandibular issues are also taken care of by an orthodontist.

Orthodontics is all about keeping your facial structure in balance.

What Do People Look For In Choosing A Dentist?


Location Of The Office

Location, location, location – there’s a reason why this is on top of everyone’s list when they’re looking for a dentist. If the dental office is too far from your home or place of work, you’ll find yourself going in only when you can’t avoid the dentist any longer.

Make it easy for yourself. Find an office that isn’t a ways away from where you live or work.

The Dentist’s Qualifications

Before you go in, research the expertise and extent of training the dentist in question has. You can also ask the dentist yourself about their skill sets.

Additionally, not all dentists are trained to perform the full array of restorative or cosmetic procedures. In such cases, they might refer you to a colleague.

Services Offered

You might not find all dentists performing or practicing similar treatments. Make sure the dentist you’re going to visit offers the service you require.

Dental Emergency Services

Life happens and dental emergencies occur. It’s always best to make sure that the office you’re visiting is open to overseeing dental emergencies. You wouldn’t want to be caught helpless in a situation that demands emergency or immediate professional intervention.

Dental Technologies

Like any other field, dentistry is also constantly evolving. This means that the technology used in dental practices is also being upgraded.

Find out whether the prospective dentist believes in investing in new equipment and technologies. That way, you’ll know if the dentist is concerned about improving the patient experience and enhancing the treatment process.

While fancy equipment may not necessarily change the outcome of the treatment provided, it can impact the treatment experience. It could translate into reduced chair time or number of visits. But keep in mind that cutting-edge technology can also mean higher billables.

Patient Comfort

Your comfort is super important when it comes to visiting a dental office. Unless somebody feels comfortable in a space, chances are they’ll likely not be regular.

A dental office’s staff is as important as the dentist. They are responsible for alleviating any dental anxiety a person feels and also make sure that the patient feels welcome and at ease.

The best way to tell if an office is the one for you is by observing how a small child feels when they visit.

Cost And Insurance

Let’s be honest – the bill is as important as the experience. Affordability and finding an office that fits your budget are key deciding factors when choosing a dentist. Additionally, making sure that the dental office in question is covered by your dental insurance is also imperative.

Get estimates before you finalize an office.

How Do I Find The Best Dentist Near Me?

dental care

See Who People Endorse

People living in your area can give you fantastic information on the dental offices surrounding you. Patients with good experiences will endorse the dentists they visit. This will give you an idea about the dentist’s expertise and the overall office environment.

Ask A Healthcare Expert

Your family doctor and the local chemist can recommend all the good dental offices to their knowledge. People working in healthcare are aware of the ins and outs of their colleagues and know who to refer to where.

Surf The Web

A quick sweep on the internet and you’ll find all the local dentists nearby. Read up on the dentist’s qualifications, the services they offer, and patient testimonials.

The American Dental Association suggests that you visit the dental offices that you shortlist before landing on the final decision. This will help you gain some insight into the workings of the office, the setup, and the dentist’s and the staff’s demeanor.

For people residing in and around Ramsey, River’s Bend Family Dental is your go-to dental office. Come down for a quick visit and see our establishment for yourself. Schedule a meeting with our dental expert by giving us a call at (763) 576-1855.

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