What is the Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist?

If you need help with your teeth or your oral hygiene, there are a number of different people who you can visit. Choosing the right person can help you to get the best treatment. However, many people are confused about the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist and so this article should help you to understand the difference between the two professions.

The word “dentist” is often used as a broad umbrella term for people who are qualified to work with teeth, the mouth, the jaw, the gums, and nerves which fall within this general area. There are many different forms of dentist, although the term is often just used for general practitioners. If you want a check-up, or if you have noticed a minor dental issue, then you are most likely to visit a dentist as your first port of call. If a dentist is unable to help you, they may have to refer you on to a specialist. In fact, the vast majority of people who visit the orthodontist in the United Kingdom have been referred there by their general dentist.

An orthodontist is a dentist who has taken on a specialism. Dentists who want to specialise in a certain area of dentistry will normally complete their standard training, and then move onto extra training which will allow them to specialise.

Orthodontists specialise in correcting the alignment of teeth. This can include correcting underbites, overbites, crowded teeth and misaligned teeth. Although it may sound as though they work in a kind of cosmetic dentistry, the alignment of teeth is actually very important. Misaligned teeth can cause headaches, jaw aches and ongoing neck problems, as well as a lot of other wider health issues. Some low level procedures, such as the administration of standard braces can be done by a dentist, but more complicated procedures, including the surgical realignment or teeth, may require the skills of a specialist.

Knowing who you need to see

In the United Kingdom, most people will always go to see a dentist before they go to see an orthodontist, even if they already have some level of awareness that they may need an orthodontic specialist. Once an initial assessment has been carried out, the patient will then be referred to the orthodontist. This helps to make sure that orthodontists only have to treat people who need their help.

Whilst a dentist may have a low level of experience in orthodontic dentistry, if you want to receive the best possible treatment and care, you are recommended to visit a specialist. If your case is more complicated, your dentist may also refer you to an orthodontist, even if they normally have the experience needed to deal with these types of treatments.

Private or Public?

In the United Kingdom it is possible to visit a public orthodontist who is subsidised by the National Health Service. The majority of your treatment will be covered by national insurance, so long as you have the right to live and work in the United Kingdom. However, these orthodontists are normally very oversubscribed and their waiting lists can be very long. You can normally only see an NHS orthodontist with a referral from an NHS dentist.

If you are not able to get an appointment quickly, your problem may get worse. The types of treatments that public practitioners are able to offer may also be more limited. Private orthodontists are widely available in the United Kingdom, although you will be expected to pay much more for their services than you would be expected to pay for treatment by an NHS specialist. Whilst some people pay for treatment as and when they need it, others will work out a payment plan with their orthodontist in order to cover the cost of their treatment. These orthodontists are normally able to offer a wide range of treatments, although some are more competent in new treatments than others are.

Who can use Orthodontists?

Orthodontists are suitable for anyone who has a problem with the alignment of their teeth or jaw. Whilst lots of people think that braces are only for children and teenagers, there are plenty of options available to treat adults who need to have their jaws or teeth realigned.

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