When a person needs work done on their teeth, it isn’t always clear who they should visit. Do they need a dentist? Or should they go to an orthodontist? Can someone be both? Do you need to visit one before you can visit the other?
We can understand the confusion.
After all, there is a lot of commonality between dentists and orthodontists. In fact, orthodontists are technically a type of dentist that specializes in alignment and bite issues. However, they generally don’t provide the same services as a dentist. To understand what makes an orthodontist different, it helps to know how someone becomes ones in the first place.
The Journey to Becoming an Orthodontist
For most of the education process, the path for dentistry and orthodontics is the same. First, a Bachelor of Arts is earned. Many students who plan to become a dentist or orthodontist major in biology or chemistry, though this isn’t required. As long as they take the necessary core classes, they can major in virtually anything. Once they have a bachelor’s degree, students apply for graduate school so that they can earn their doctorate.
In graduate school, they will major in either Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine. Despite the different names, these graduate degrees actually feature the same classes and requirements. In addition to classes, graduate students must complete clinical hours. The level of education and clinical training for dentists is on the same level as those training to become medical doctors.
With their doctorate completed, those wanting to become dentists are finished with their formal education. All they need to do is pass a final series of written and practical exams for the state they’ll be practicing in.
Orthodontists, on the other hand, require additional education before licensing can be achieved. They must enroll in a special orthodontic program, which takes a minimum of 2 years to complete. During this, they will complete a residency under the supervision of a qualified orthodontist.
Once that is finished, they take their final exams and pass a licensing board.
So, in addition to orthodontic training, orthodontists have all the same formal training of a dentist. This gives them a strong understanding of overall oral health and wellbeing.
Which Do I Need?
When it comes to tooth pain, cavities, dental checkups, gum issues, etc., you’ll want to see a dentist. If you have misalignment and/or bite issues, you should see an orthodontist. Though orthodontists are trained in dentistry, the majority only offer orthodontic-based services. This allows them to provide a more focused experience for their patients.
You don’t need to see a dentist before visiting an orthodontist, though you should be visiting the dentist at least once or twice a year regardless.
If you live in the Beavercreek, Ohio area, and you’re in need of an orthodontist, Dhingra Orthodontics is here for you. Since earning her Doctorate of Dental Surgery and Master of Science in Dentistry at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Dentistry, Dr. Dhingra has spent the past 22 years helping children and adults achieve a happier, healthier smile. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation!