Why is a Dentist not an Orthodontist?

orthodontic-315784_640We have all heard the popular phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” When it comes to the dental world, many professionals prefer to think of the phrase as, “A smile is worth a thousand words.” It is a person’s facial expression that is often used in creating a first impression. It expresses many experiences such as joy, happiness, excitement and love. It is these realizations that sparks a passion in many orthodontists and dentists. They are in the business of creating beautiful and healthy smiles.

What is the difference?

Many people confuse the professions of dentists and orthodontists. While it is true that an orthodontic specialist is a dentist, they don’t perform the same methods of treatment. They both endure medical school and postgraduate training. However, orthodontists take it a step further. After postgraduate training, they complete two years of orthodontic residency training. During their residency, they focus solely on treatments and studies for the jaw, bones and teeth. They study the alignment of teeth and how they move. (If you had braces and then a retainer, you would better understand the importance of wearing the retainer daily. Why? if you don’t wear the retainer on a daily basis for long period of time, the teeth can and will move!) Take a look at the list of ailments that they treat.

  • Crowded Teeth
  • Overbite
  • Underbite
  • Crossbite
  • TMJ
  • Overly Spaced Teeth

Although they are best known for their method of straightening teeth with braces, it’s important to remember that they also treat jaw annoyances such as TMJ. If you have a popping jaw, aching and tiredness after chewing, your dentist may refer you to an orthodontist. They have the tools and newest advancements to treat and correct jaw pain and tightness and all the ailments that come with TMJ. (Don’t worry. They don’t always want to leap into surgery, break your jaw, sew it shut for six weeks and then surgically reopen it. This fear keeps many TMJ sufferers from seeking help. There are other treatments that work effectively without immediately assuming the worst case scenario.)

Now let’s take a look at what general dentists treat.

  • Tooth Decay
  • Gum Disease
  • Root Canals
  • Crowns
  • Bridges
  • Veneers
  • Teeth Whitening
  • Teeth Cleaning

Clearly, dentists provide oral care for the most basic of dental problems whereas orthodontists are dental specialists.

How is an Appointment Generally Referred?

Dentists will refer their patients to an orthodontic specialist when they notice an abnormality during a routine dental cleaning. One of the most common scenarios occur with children as their permanent teeth start to emerge. Dentists pay close attention to a child’s dental development as the permanent teeth take form. If a child’s permanent teeth are becoming crowded, crooked or improperly spaced out, the dentist will refer the child to an orthodontic specialist. At this point, the child is most likely a candidate for braces. After all, how rare is it that a teenager doesn’t need braces? Unfortunately, many families cannot afford orthodontic treatment for the straightening of teeth and thus, these children mature with crooked or crowded teeth. Many times, these patients seek out orthodontic treatment later in adulthood.

Many adults recognize their need for orthodontic treatment but are embarrassed to wear the metal bling. A major breakthrough in orthodontic treatment came with the advancement technology of Invisalign. This form of alignment correction allows the patient to wear a clear mold over their teeth without the embarrassment of braces. In addition to the less embarrassing mouth, Invisalign offers a more efficient method of straightening crooked teeth than ever before. Like all technology, this method is constantly advancing and improving.

Maintain Excellent Oral Care!

Now that you know the difference between dentistry and orthodontics, you should be more familiar with the importance of maintaining excellent oral hygiene and care! To avoid gum disease and tooth infections, floss and brush twice daily. If you’ve had those pearly teeth straightened by the methods of an orthodontist, follow his advice and wear your retainer daily. Not only is this for the benefit of your oral health, but this is for a beautiful mouth! It is proven that self-esteem is boosted with a nice smile. After all, a smile is worth a thousand words.

Where Can I Find a Great Orthodontic Specialist?

Statistically, only ten percent of all dentists venture into the orthodontic world. With the extensive training in the study of the jaw and teeth, it is safe to say that most orthodontists are excellent and passionate with their methods of treatment.

Nalchajian Orthodontics is a team of two orthodontists that serve in the Fresno and Clovis areas. Yes, they have two locations! If you live in the area and are seeking a referral to an orthodontic office, this practice is the one to choose! As a family team, the practice opened in 1965 and has been in operation ever since.  Their patients have become a part of the family and the best treatment is offered. Even better, the first office visit is free to everyone! First-time patients are offered a free exam with the utmost gentle care. In that first exam, the patient will learn what treatments are recommended and how long treatment should last. If you are searching for a friendly staff and a caring orthodontist, don’t look any further than Nalchajian Orthodontics.  Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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