When you find yourself with an oral health issue that needs addressing, one of the first questions you might have is whether you need a dentist or an orthodontist. Understanding the differences between these specialists will help you determine who to call to resolve your dental issue.

Both orthodontists and dentists require several years of in depth education before they begin practicing their profession. Both specialists will be well trained to handle your issues. However, orthodontists receive more specialized training. So, which one do you need?

A dentist will typically focus on diagnosing, treating and managing your overall oral health. Doing so involves a number of x-rays, regular check-ups and scheduled cleanings. Dentists will also help repair or remove unhealthy teeth and even fill cavities. Types of treatments offered by a dentist include:

  • Root canals
  • Teeth whitening
  • Veneers
  • Bridges
  • Crowns
  • Many more

Some dentists take additional training courses to offer orthodontic services. This means that some dentists will take on the responsibilities of a dentist instead of referring you to a specialist. However, most of the time a dentist will refer you to an orthodontist when you have specific needs that are outside of their field of expertise.

Orthodontic associates have specialized in the alignment of your jaws and teeth. They use non-surgical methods to correct misalignments in your teeth. Orthodontists primary focus is diagnosing, preventing and treating malocclusions, also known as bad bites. After examining you and your exact situation, the orthodontist will determine which forms of non-surgical treatment will work best for you. Among the popular options are:

  • Retainers
  • Braces
  • Wires
  • Corrective appliances

Staying on top of your oral health will help you keep your natural teeth for as long as possible. You'll avoid tooth decay and keep a bright, welcoming smile. One bad tooth can cause a snowball effect of oral health issues, so it's worth visiting a dentist every six months to ensure that your smile is healthy and protected. Don't wait for tooth pain to push you into seeing a dentist, take it upon yourself to proactively remain healthy.

So, how do you know if you need a dentist or an orthodontist? If you're looking to correct a structural issue with your teeth, you'll need an orthodontist. Otherwise, you'll need a dentist. If you're unsure which specialist you require, start by visiting a dentist and let them steer you towards an orthodontist if necessary. Invest in a healthy smile today!