You’ve almost certainly heard of a dentist, but if your child has also been referred to an orthodontist then your first thought might be “who are they and how do they differ from my usual dentist?” With the treatment dentist can prescribe often overlapping with some of those administered by an orthodontist it’s no wonder that confusion arises but we’ll try to make it all a little clearer in this post.
Is a dentist or an orthodontist more qualified?
Both dentists and orthodontists are qualified dental professionals but the main difference to consider when looking at the difference between an orthodontist vs dentist for your child is that orthodontists are specialists in teeth movement and have completed an additional 2 to 3 years of training. Less than 10% of dentists are orthodontists, and dentists will usually refer a patient to an orthodontist if they require specialist care and treatment. However, if you just need regular checkups or teeth cleaning services, sourcing for a dentist like one from Murphy General & Cosmetic Dentistry clinic is more than enough.
What are the kinds of things that my child may be referred to an orthodontist for?
Because orthodontists have undergone several years worth of additional training to become specialists they are better equipped to diagnose and provide treatment for a number of conditions including:
- Biting of the teeth, tongue, gums or roof of the mouth as a result of misaligned teeth.
- Grinding of the teeth
- Clenched jaws
- Crowded mouths with not enough room for teeth to come through properly
- Teeth that don’t meet properly
- Tooth loss
- Badly ingrown teeth
- Cosmetic teeth issues
- Misalignment of the teeth or jaw
- Protruding teeth problems
- Chronic migraines or headaches as a result of the jaw
- Chewing and biting difficulties
- Speech impairments
What procedures do orthodontists specialise in?
Many of the issues outlined above are caused by teeth movement which means that they can be rectified by straightening or moving teeth, to improve how they work within the mouth. Some of the things that orthodontists can do to help align teeth include:
- Fitting braces
The most common way that orthodontists realign teeth is through the use of braces. There are a number of different types of braces that your orthodontist could use including fixed braces, invisible braces and lingual braces – these all work in essentially the same way and are fixed to the teeth using brackets and tightened using wires to pull the teeth into new positions.
- Fitting aligners
If braces aren’t a suitable option then aligners, plastic mouth inserts that sit over the teeth, are another option. These devices can be removed which makes them more attractive to people who do not want to be seen wearing braces.
- Fitting headgear
In some instances, it may be necessary for a patient to wear headgear, usually for only a few hours a day or at night to help their teeth align, an orthodontist can fit this for you.
- Removing teeth
Both dentists and orthodontists can remove teeth but if the removal is for the sake of alignment then it will usually be carried out by an orthodontist instead.
Who should your child see?
For the most part, dentists will be able to provide your child with all the dental treatment they need and will refer you to an orthodontist if they feel you require more specialist treatment. However, you can choose to see an orthodontist yourself if you feel that you would rather they carry out certain treatments such as the fitting or removal of braces, which dentists can also do.