The term “dentist” is usually used as a blanket word for any kind of medical professional that works on your teeth. But much like any other profession, there are different levels of expertise in dentistry which results in different terms for the various specialties.
An orthodontist is a medical professional that generally focuses on braces. They specialize in oral healthcare specifically with tooth and jaw alignment.
Certified orthodontists can diagnose and treat a number of oral health conditions. This includes areas such as the gums and the mouth. However, their primary area of focus is on the teeth and jaw to ensure everything is aligned correctly.
What can an orthodontist help with?
A certified orthodontist will generally help with the following:
- Diagnose issues regarding misaligned teeth and jaws
- Suggest treatment options using braces and retainers
- Straighten teeth using various surgical and non-surgical procedures
- Customize and install dental appliances like braces and orthodontic headgear
- Monitor tooth and jaw alignment in children
However, orthodontists can also help with general oral health enquiries and issues. This is because dentists and orthodontists receive the same base level of training. However, orthodontists will further specialize in tooth and jaw alignment before working at a practice.
The benefits of seeing an orthodontist
Many people find it daunting to see a dentist. However, there are a number of benefits that come with seeing an orthodontist that should encourage you to book an appointment.
- Correcting a bad bite can ensure that no damage comes to your teeth and
- An orthodontist can help improve your smile if the cosmetic appearance of your teeth worries you.
- Orthodontists can help correct speech, breathing, and chewing-related difficulties.
- You can improve your facial profile by correcting a misaligned jaw.
- Orthodontists can help diagnose and manage obstructive sleep apnoea.
- They can also help with child-specific issues such as finger sucking habits.
When should you see an orthodontist?
Because there’s a bit of overlap in the services that a dentist and orthodontist can offer, it can be difficult deciding if you should see an orthodontist or not.
In general, a dentist or orthodontist can treat most teeth-related concerns, but a dentist will generally be more convenient. This is because an orthodontist is a specialist that deals with specific issues. You’ll only see an orthodontist for the duration of your treatment. On the other hand, a dentist is much like your physician that you see on a regular basis.
However, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t see an orthodontist if you’re having oral health issues. If you believe that you may need braces or have a misaligned jaw, then an orthodontist should be the first person you see. If you already have an orthodontic appliance such as braces or retainers, then you may need to visit an orthodontist first to have them repaired or readjusted.
In short, here are a couple of situations where you should speak to an orthodontist:
- You have healthy teeth but are concerned about misalignment in your teeth or your jaw.
- You need to repair or adjust an orthodontic appliance such as braces
- You’re worried about your child’s tooth or jaw alignment
- You have trouble chewing or talking
- You have crooked or overcrowded teeth
- You’re interested in straightening your teeth
If you’re experiencing any of these issues then you may want to consider seeing an orthodontist. However, before your orthodontist recommends any kind of procedure or surgery, you will typically go through a consultation to examine your issues and discuss your options.
When it comes to something like straightening teeth, there could be different causes and solutions available to you. It’s your orthodontist’s job to identify the issues, offer their advice and also help you maintain your orthodontic appliance if needed.
What kind of orthodontic appliances are available?
There are a number of different orthodontic appliances available. Depending on your circumstances or the orthodontist, you’ll have a couple of suggestions on what to use. In some cases, there may be a clear orthodontic appliance that is best for your needs.
A fixed brace is something that is not removable by the patient. These are typically glued to the front of each tooth and linked using wires. This aims to straighten your teeth over a long period of time. Both adults and children alike can wear them.
A removable brace works similarly to a fixed brace but can be removed. These are usually in the form of plastic plates that cover the roof of the mouth and clip onto your teeth. While convenient, they’re not as effective as fixed braces.
Retainers are used towards the end of an orthodontic treatment. They hold straightened teeth in place to assist the gum and bone around the teeth in adjusting to their new position. Retainers can easily be removed, but some people may prefer fixed ones.
Rubber bands, or elastics, can improve the fit of your upper and lower teeth. These disposable bands hook onto your braces and will fix issues such as an overbite. Your orthodontist will give these to you and instruct you on how to use them.
There are a number of other orthodontic appliances that your orthodontist might recommend. It’s important to discuss your options during the consultation process to ensure that you have a full understanding of what’s available to you and how they can help with straightening your teeth.
Contact Godley Station Dental for more information
As a certified dental office with skilled orthodontists on our team, we’re more than happy to book you in for a consultation to help you decide what the best course of action is for your needs. Godley Station Dental offers a wide variety of dental treatments including orthodontics, so don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information.