Orthodontist vs. General Dentist: What Are the Differences?


Did you know that around 65% of American adults have visited the dentist within the past year? If it’s been a while since you have been to the dentist, you should make an appointment.

Visiting your dentist is essential to maintain good oral health, physical health, and self-esteem. While there are many benefits to going to the dentist, choosing the right dentist can be hard.

Do you need to see a dentist or an orthodontist? Keep reading for an orthodontist vs. general dentist comparison to learn what they do, when you need to see them, and their educational requirements.

What Is a General Dentist?

A general dentist is someone that monitors, diagnoses, and treats issues involving oral health. Dentists are a type of doctor that helps you maintain good oral health.

You should visit the dentist at least every six months. During your appointment, the dentist will examine your mouth, gums, and teeth. They also will use diagnostic tools such as x-rays, drills, and lights.

Dentists wear protective gear to protect them from bacteria and germs. When looking for the best dentist, look for someone that is professional, listens to your concerns, and has experience.

Signs You Need to Visit a Dentist

Do you know when to see the dentist? If not, you should visit the dentist at least every six months. During your six-month appointment, your dentist will clean your teeth and look for any issues.

In addition to seeing your dentist every six months, you also should make an appointment if you have pain, bleeding, or swelling in your mouth.

In some cases, you may need to schedule an emergency dental appointment. Some common dental emergencies include losing a tooth, a tooth infection, or losing a filling.

Dental Treatments

In addition to cleaning your teeth, general dentists also treat a wide variety of conditions. Some of the most common conditions include tooth decay, gum disease, an abscessed tooth, or impacted wisdom teeth.

To treat these issues, dentists perform a wide variety of procedures. Some of them include tooth extractions, root canals, fillings, and preventative care.

Dentist Educational Requirments

Are you wondering what it takes to become a dentist? Being a dentist is hard work, and it takes several years of schooling to get a license. To become a dentist, the first step is to earn a bachelor’s degree.

After that, prospective dentists continue their education to get a doctorate. Once dentists finish their schooling, they have to take an exam to get their license.

What Is an Orthodontist?

Now that you know more about what a dentist does, what does an orthodontist do? An orthodontist is a type of dentist that diagnoses and treats teeth alignment and issues with the jaw.

While most people visit the dentist every six months, you will only need to visit an orthodontist if your dentist refers you to one. The goal of orthodontists is to correct your bite.

When you have straight teeth and an even bite, it’s easier to chew your food, speak, and clean your teeth. Having straight teeth can also boost your confidence and allow you to make a better first impression.

When looking for the best orthodontist, you should consider their experience, office environment, friendliness, and cost.

Signs You Need to Visit an Orthodontist

Because the goal of an orthodontist is to straighten teeth, you should make an orthodontist appointment if you have crooked teeth.

Some other signs that you need to make an orthodontist appointment include overcrowding, an overbite, or an underbite. These issues can cause digestive problems, sleep apnea, lockjaw, and bone problems.

If you feel like your confidence has been impacted because of your teeth, that is another sign that you should see an orthodontist.

Orthodontist Treatments

When you visit the orthodontist, there are several different treatment methods that they could propose. The best treatment plan for you will depend on the condition of your teeth and jaw.

Some of the most common treatments include surgery, traditional braces, and clear braces. The orthodontist may recommend surgery if there isn’t enough room in your mouth for your teeth.

Once there is enough room, you will be able to straighten your teeth using clear aligners or braces. After you get your braces off, the orthodontist can give you a retainer to prevent your teeth from moving.

Orthodontist Educational Requirements

Like a regular dentist, becoming an orthodontist is hard work. If you want to become an orthodontist, you need to start by getting your bachelor’s degree. Like regular dentists, you can study biology or chemistry.

Once you get your bachelor’s degree, you will need to apply for dental school. Dental school takes approximately four years to complete.

While regular dentists finish their schooling after dental school, orthodontists have to continue their schooling. After dental school, orthodontists have to complete a residency program.

This residency program takes two or three years. During the program, orthodontists treat patients while under the supervision of experienced orthodontists.

After completing the orthodontist’s residency program, you can take your written and clinical exams to get your certifications in orthodontics.

Orthodontist vs. General Dentist: Which Should You See?

While visiting the dentist is important to maintaining your oral health, you should visit an orthodontist if you have crooked teeth. If you aren’t sure which one to visit, keep this orthodontist and general dentist guide in mind.

Did you enjoy reading this orthodontist vs. general dentist comparison? If so, check out the health and fitness category to learn more about caring for your teeth.