While dentists and orthodontists are both professionals that help patients achieve healthy teeth and gums (not to forget dental hygienists, who are also very important!), they do different things, have different levels of education, and solve different types of problems. It’s important to know the difference between dentists and orthodontists because you want to make sure you are seeing the right type of professional depending on what issues you are dealing with.
Dentist vs. Orthodontist
Visiting the dentist on a regular basis (at least every 6 months) is important to maintain the health of your teeth and gums. A dentist is someone that you want to build a lifelong relationship with. Dentists will take care if your regular maintenance like cleaning your teeth as well as any restorative treatment (fillings, crowns, veneers, root canals, extractions, etc).
When it comes to the alignment of the teeth and bite, you want to see a Certified Specialist in Orthodontics (also known as an Orthodontist). An orthodontist has to become a dentist first (approximately 8 years of University) and then complete an additional 3 years of specialized training at University in Orthodontics (a total of 11 years!). Orthodontists are trained to make teeth look great while also creating a functional bite enhancing the longevity of the teeth. Some types of appliances that you should consult only an Orthodontist about are braces, Invisalign, retainers, expanders, and headgear.
Orthodontists have been trained and certified in the correction of malocclusions. A malocclusion is a bite that does not work properly. Often times, one jaw might grow more than the other. You can have underbites, overbites, crossbites, and more. An orthodontist is trained to correct this so that your teeth do not breakdown and wear out over time. Correcting a bite problem will also result in a beautiful smile. There are always more benefits to orthodontic treatment than you expect!
Dentists and Orthodontists are both professionals that require a great level of dedication and skill, however, they are good at different things. Going to a “1 stop shop” in healthcare is not ideal because no one can be good at everything. It is best to see the professional who excels in their area of expertise.
At South Surrey Smiles, we specialize in Orthodontics. You can trust that any doctor you see in our office is a certified specialist. While you are in treatment at our office, it is still important to visit your regular dentist for your routine cleanings and check ups. We look forward to providing you with the highest quality in orthodontics!
Dr. Lesley Williams is a Certified Specialist in Orthodontics. She grew up in Victoria, BC with her parents and two sisters.
After being awarded her Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD) degree in 1989, Dr. Williams then spent six years as a dentist in general practice before deciding that she wanted to further her education by undertaking three extra years of highly specialized training in orthodontics. With her Masters in Science (Orthodontics) degree under her belt, she went on to sit the Orthodontic Specialty Fellowship exams through the Royal College of Dentists of Canada. To date, her status as an active leader in the orthodontic profession means that she holds the following qualifications and positions:
- Certified Specialist in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
- Fellow of the Royal College of Dentists of Canada
- Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics
- Examiner for the Royal College of Dentists of Canada and the American Board of Orthodontics.
- Former president of the Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists (representing 2900 orthodontists from the 4 western Canadian provinces and 8 western American states).
- Active member of the Edward H. Angle Society of Orthodontists.