What is orthodontic vs dental?

Answered by Tom Adger

Orthodontics and dentistry are both branches of oral health care, but they have distinct focuses and goals. Dentistry is a broad field that encompasses the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of various oral health conditions. Dentists are primarily concerned with maintaining the overall health of the teeth, gums, and mouth. They perform routine check-ups, cleanings, fillings, extractions, and other general dental procedures.

On the other hand, orthodontics is a specialized field within dentistry that specifically deals with the alignment and positioning of teeth and jaws. Orthodontists are experts in diagnosing and treating malocclusions, which are improper bites or misaligned teeth. They use various techniques and appliances to correct these issues and improve the function and aesthetics of the smile.

One key difference between dentistry and orthodontics is the scope of their practice. Dentists focus on a wide range of oral health issues, including cavities, gum disease, oral infections, and oral cancer screenings. They are trained to handle a variety of dental procedures, such as root canals, crowns, bridges, and dentures. Dentists also educate patients about proper oral hygiene practices and provide guidance on maintaining good oral health.

Orthodontists, on the other hand, specialize in the alignment and straightening of teeth. They use braces, aligners, retainers, and other orthodontic appliances to gradually move teeth into their correct positions. Orthodontic treatment is often recommended for individuals with crowded teeth, gaps between teeth, overbites, underbites, crossbites, or other bite irregularities. By correcting these issues, orthodontists can improve the bite, enhance facial symmetry, and create a more appealing smile.

Orthodontic treatment typically begins with a thorough evaluation and examination of the patient’s teeth, jaws, and facial structure. This may involve taking X-rays, photographs, and dental impressions. Based on this assessment, the orthodontist will develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to the specific needs of the patient. The treatment duration can vary depending on the complexity of the case, but it often requires regular appointments for adjustments and monitoring progress.

In my personal experience, I had the opportunity to undergo orthodontic treatment as a teenager. I had crowded teeth and an overbite, which affected both the appearance of my smile and the function of my bite. My orthodontist recommended braces to gradually straighten my teeth and align my bite. The treatment took a couple of years, during which I visited the orthodontist regularly for adjustments and check-ups. The end result was a significant improvement in both the aesthetics and functionality of my teeth.

While dentistry focuses on maintaining overall oral health, orthodontics is a specialized branch that specifically deals with correcting bites and aligning teeth. Dentists handle a wide range of dental issues, while orthodontists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of malocclusions. Both professions play important roles in improving patients’ oral health and enhancing their smiles.