Dentistry and oral care is a very broad segment of the health care industry. Because tooth maintenance and repair covers a great number of individual treatment definitions, specialists in the industry become very important players. Generally, individuals will want to retain the services of a primary care dentist, and this is because the dentist can perform most of the oral maintenance procedures without having to refer the individual to a specialist. An orthodontist is one of the specialists. This professional addresses problems with tooth growth, alignment, and even deformities in the supporting jawbones.
Below, we outline the similarities and differences between a general practitioner dentist and an orthodontist in terms of specific oral care concerns. Remember that a dentist will often refer the client to an orthodontist to treat problems with actual tooth development or with badly structured tooth alignment.
General Dental Care
A primary care dentist will diagnose, treat, and manage the client’s overall oral health care needs. This includes cleaning of the teeth and gums, filling cavities, and performing whitening. The use of X-rays is important because this allows the dentist to view inside the teeth and spot problems associated with bacteria. Bacteria are the number one problem when it comes to overall oral health. Early detection of tooth decay can be spotted immediately, and the dentist will suggest changes to at-home care or perform special cleaning of the teeth below the gum lines.
Dentists also perform extractions, root canals, and crown applications. These procedures can correct problems that would otherwise allow the spread of infection later in life.
What Is An Orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a specially trained professional that performs certain procedures to correct problems with tooth growth, tooth alignment, and problems associated with the tooth support system. These problems can be caused by skeletal deformities such as an elongated or shortened lower jaw. Overbites and underbites, teeth that need to be straightened, and additional tooth support such as implants and even root implants can be addressed by a properly trained orthodontist.
Orthodontic treatments include braces, wires, retainers, and other corrective appliances. Some orthodontists are also specialists in deep cleaning procedures where the gum is actually lifted away from the tooth so that easier flushing and cleaning beneath the gum line is possible. Some orthodontists are actually surgeons, and they perform such procedures as jaw repositioning to correct overbites and buck teeth.
Choosing A Dental Professional
As stated above, it’s very important to see a dentist regularly. He or she can easily spot developing problems and make the determination as to the proper corrective procedure. Even if the client suffers something like a broken tooth, seeing the primary care dentist is the proper first step. If the dental professional can’t correct the problem, he or she will know who can.
Most orthodontists build their clientele through referrals. Some insurance coverage that applies to general dentistry doesn’t cover as high a percentage of treatment procedures performed by an orthodontist. This is why it’s important to bring initial concerns to the dentist. He or she may be able to correct the problem without the need to refer the client to a specialist such as an orthodontist or oral surgeon.
Christopher is an author, blogger, and musician from Wichita, KS who has been fearful of visits with a dentist most of his life until he discovered sedation dentistry.