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What is the Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist?

When you need dental care, it’s crucial to receive treatment from the right professional. Both dentists and orthodontists play a valuable role in keeping your teeth healthy and looking great. It’s important to know the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist and when to seek the services of each.

Dentists and orthodontists will often work together to offer their patients holistic treatment. If a dentist thinks you need orthodontic work, they’ll refer you to a specialist orthodontist. Likewise, an orthodontist will refer you to a dentist for general dental work, cosmetic work or a tooth extraction to complement their orthodontic work.

You don’t need a referral to visit an orthodontist or a dentist. It pays to know which you should visit depending on the issue you’re facing.

What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a specialised branch of dentistry which specifically focuses on straightening teeth and ensuring correct jaw alignment. Both are important for proper mouth function when eating and chewing.

Orthodontists diagnose, prevent and treat facial irregularities to improve oral function, hygiene and prevent a host of other problems. Crooked teeth or misaligned jaws can cause digestive problems and other oral hygiene issues resulting from an inability to properly clean your teeth.

The Difference Between Dentists and Orthodontists

The big difference between dentists and orthodontists is specialised training. A dentist will have completed 5 years of dentistry training at university. This equips them with the skills to perform general dentistry such as check-ups, tooth extractions and fillings.

They also diagnose dental diseases such as tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer. Dentists also offer cosmetic dentistry to enhance your appearance, such as teeth whitening and veneers.

Orthodontists on the other hand require far more training. All orthodontists are trained, experienced dentists who have completed additional specialist qualifications to perform orthodontic treatments. This allows them to treat their patients holistically to ensure an accurate diagnosis and treatment process suited to each patient’s unique needs.

In Australia an orthodontist will have completed:

  • a Bachelor degree in Dentistry (a 5 year full-time university course)
  • a Master’s degree in Orthodontics (a 3-4 year full-time university course)

They then need to be registered as a specialist in orthodontics by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Once they’re a practicing orthodontist, they receive ongoing training in new orthodontic technology and treatment methods.

An easy way of looking at it is to think of dentists as the equivalent of a GP who can treat common health issues using consistent methods. An orthodontist is more like an eye specialist who comes up with a tailored treatment plan for a specific patient’s problem.

While a dentist can address problems caused by misalignments, such as tooth wear and headaches, their ability to resolve the root cause of the problem is limited. Much like you wouldn’t visit a GP for specialist eye surgery, you shouldn’t visit a regular dentist for misalignment problems.

Orthodontist in Newcastle

Our team of orthodontists help correct and align teeth, bites and jaws including straightening teeth. If you’re experiencing problems in these areas and need treatment in Newcastle, get in touch with us today. We use the latest methods and technology to provide specialist treatment tailored to each individual, unique case. Call 02 4956 2020 or schedule an appointment online.