Dentist or orthodontist?

Get your smile in the front row...

Many people get confused as to which is the “best” oral care professional to see, however this actually depends on your teeth’s needs. Both dentists and orthodontists play a valuable role in keeping your teeth healthy and they often work together with you to ensure your best oral health.

While everyone understands that a dentist takes care of teeth, not everyone is sure of what an orthodontist does. This confusion sometimes leads to misunderstandings – let’s take a look at a couple of misconceptions about orthodontists.

Perhaps the biggest misconception about an orthodontist is that they're just like your family dentist. The truth is, they're actually very different. Both orthodontists and dentists care about helping you enjoy a lifetime of good dental and oral health, however they go about achieving this goal in different ways. For example, dentists are the health professionals to see if you’re concerned about a cavity or need a filling. A dentist can also treat gum disease, tooth decay, toothaches and other common oral health problems.

People see an orthodontist for particular services, mostly when they are concerned about the alignment of their, or their child's, teeth. As a child grows up, his or her teeth may come in crooked. This can happen for a number of reasons, so it’s important for an orthodontist to look at a child’s teeth between the ages of 8 and 10 years. At that age it is possible to detect any problems that have not become too advanced to treat easily. Your family dentist may also refer your child to an orthodontist once the adult teeth have fully grown in.

As crooked teeth can be caused by a number of different factors, it’s entirely possible for someone to require orthodontic treatment at any age. At an orthodontist's practice, you will find kids, teenagers, Uni students and adults of various ages!

If you're a parent, it's a good idea to make an appointment with an orthodontist if:

  • Your child suffers from tooth overcrowding or misalignment.
  • You are concerned about the appearance of your child’s teeth.
  • Your child is experiencing jaw pain and headaches.
  • Your child is between 8-10 years old (regardless of whether or not they have dental issues).

You do NOT need a referral from a dentist to see an orthodontist – simply use Find an Orthodontist and make an appointment! 

This Australian Society of Orthodontists' blog post was based on content supplied by nq ortho.