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Virginia Beach Residents Ask: What is the Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist?

Orthodontics in Virginia Beach, VADentists and Orthodontists both deal with teeth, so what gives? Why go to one for cleanings and one for braces? Today, we’re going to break down everything you need to know about what makes your dentist and orthodontist different.

The Training

Dentists and orthodontists go through the same basic training. What sets them apart is the extra training an orthodontist has to do after they graduate from dental school. In order to become a dentist, you have to graduate from four years of undergraduate school, then four years of dental school afterward. Orthodontists, however, are required to do even more additional training after that including a residency and nearly 5,000 hours of orthodontic training. Only about 6 percent of dentists are orthodontists.

A Dentist

You may be thinking, “I already know what my dentist does.” But let’s dig a bit deeper into the role your dentist plays. Dentists treat your overall oral health through regular checkups. They spot and treat cavities, gum disease, and other oral hygiene problems. They also have the ability to extract teeth that may be beyond repair. If a tooth does need repair, your dentist is able to apply bonding, veneers or crowns to broken and misshapen teeth. Beyond that, and most importantly, they check for any signs of disease that may be lying in your mouth.

An Orthodontist

Your orthodontist has the ability to do everything your dentist does. From check for oral health, to bond teeth and put crowns on, in reality, your orthodontist does it all. However, we go to see our orthodontist help align our jaws and straighten our teeth. The extra training – those 5,000 hours and residency – gives them the ability to help us get rid of our gaps, crowded teeth or teeth that just stick out or don’t line up properly. Your orthodontist traditionally will set you up with some braces to align your teeth, but they also have the option to give you some lingual braces (braces that bond to the backside of your teeth) and invisible aligners.

When to see Which

Like we covered before, sometimes your orthodontist can provide the services that your dentist can offer because they’ve been through the same training. But, for a general rule of thumb, consider the following:

  • See your dentist every four to six months for regular check-ups and cleanings. You can go to your dentist if you have a cavity, need veneers, need a crown or need a bond or filling.
  • Go to your orthodontist if you want to align your teeth. They’ll be able to set you up with braces, lingual braces or invisible aligners to help you get rid of any gaps between the teeth, and align teeth that are crowded or stick out.

To learn more about what your orthodontist can provide you, contact Savage, Sabol & Visser Orthodontics. During your one-on-one consultation, they can go over some different services they may be able to provide you.