When it comes to taking care of your teeth, there are a number of different professionals tasked with doing so. Two of the most commonly visited professionals in the dental world, however, are the orthodontist and dentist. Both can help you achieve a beautiful smile, but the ways in which they do that are vastly different. Here is a brief breakdown of the difference between dentistry and orthodontics.
A dentist is actually a physician that practices in the field of dental care. They generally perform a wide variety of care ranging from routine maintenance such as check-ups and cleaning to the filling of cavities to installing fillings and crowns. Dentistry involves helping you achieve and maintain a beautiful smile by caring for your overall dental health. When and if you lose teeth, dental professionals can also help you retain a natural smile through the creation of dentures or bridges.
Dental work can also help to realign crooked teeth or at least give you the appearance of having a straight, even smile. While some dental professionals will engage in basic orthodontic work, dental care professionals have a wider range of options available to them, including more cosmetic fixes. Dental alignment can be achieved through a number of different means.
One is the use of dental bonding, which essentially fills in gaps with a bonding agent to create the appearance of smooth, even teeth. Another means of achieving this same effect is with the use of porcelain veneers which are applied over the existing teeth. Another, more modern means of creating smooth, even teeth is via a newer system known as Invisalign. Invisalign works similarly to braces to actually move teeth into alignment, but as the name implies, is nearly invisible.
Orthodontics are almost specifically aimed at realigning crooked teeth to give you straight, even teeth and a beautiful smile. Aside from just the cosmetic relief of having a great smile, orthodontic work can also help correct painful overbites or underbites that can cause far more problems than mere cosmetic ones. This is most often achieved through the use of braces or a number of other orthodontic appliances. In some cases, teeth can be aligned merely by wearing a retainer.
Braces and other means of straightening teeth have come a long way in the last few decades. Where once they consisted of large metal brackets held together with thick metal bands, today’s braces are smaller, lighter and in some cases nearly invisible. Brackets can also sometimes be installed on the inside of teeth where they are very difficult to detect. Where once children were stigmatized by braces, now many children – and even adults – proudly show off their braces with colored bands and even colored brackets.
Generally speaking, which professional you need to visit depends on just how crooked or out of alignment your teeth are. Orthodontic work is generally reserved for people with severe alignment issues, whereas dental work is generally best for the correction of smaller and less severe imperfections and issues.