Difference Between a Dentist And Orthodontist

Difference between a dentist and orthodontist. When parents are looking for excellent oral care for their children, they typically visit a dental facility. Your child may be an infant or entering middle school, but every age requires focused dental care. However, there may be some confusion about the proper doctor for your child’s treatment. There are major differences between professionals calling themselves dentists or orthodontists. Learn more about orthodontics so that you can be informed as your child grows in his her adult teeth.

dentist or orthodontist


Looking Past a Cleaning

An orthodontist doesn’t clean your teeth. Their main job is to evaluate the mouth for tooth alignment. These features are exclusive to this practice, such as:

  • Two more years of schooling that go above and beyond dentistry
  • Extra accreditation is necessary

Specialists deal with the anatomy of the jaw and palate along with the teeth. Their concern is the overall function of the mouth and jaw. Without aligned teeth, multiple problems can arise over time. As children grow up with minimal dental care, they must live with teeth that may not be as functional as perfectly straight types.

Dealing With Random Pains

A toothache may bring you to the dental office, but it’s the orthodontist who treats pains that seem to come and go. These issues aren’t due to a cavity or other acute conditions. As teeth grow in through childhood and adolescence, they may not move in a perfectly vertical fashion. Some teeth meet obstacles, which causes them to twist or bend into different positions than what’s considered natural.

Specialized services are necessary at this point so that the misalignment can be quickly corrected. Those pains should disappear after treatment.

Making Room for an Impacted Tooth

Another specialty that’s exclusive to orthodontia is dealing with impacted teeth. At times, teeth simply don’t want to move into position. There are several reasons for this condition, such as:

  • Small jaw
  • Surrounding baby teeth still intact
  • Nearby adult teeth taking up too much space

Orthodontia professionals turn to spacers as a solution. These metal components may be attached to braces or retainers. They simply hold the teeth surrounding the impacted area open. If the tooth is merely waiting for space, it should break through the gum and move into position. Some specialists attach chains to the tooth in order to coax it into place. No other dental professionals can perform these maneuvers.

Preparing the Jaw for Adult Teeth

Most specialists can look at a child’s mouth and ascertain if issues will arise as they develop. Some jaws are simply too small to support the adult teeth that are soon to appear.

In these cases, the professionals add expanders to the palate. An adjustment screw resides within the expander. Over time, the doctor expands the palate and subsequently widens the jaw for adequate tooth spacing. This procedure takes several months. It’s possible for children to avoid long-term use of either braces or Invisalign if the jaw can support the incoming teeth.

Treating a Bite Issue

During any orthodontic treatment, patients’ bites are a major concern. Most people don’t have a perfectly aligned jaw. These misaligned bites are common, including:

It’s the professional’s job to evaluate the bite and create a corrective treatment for it. Headgear, rubber bands and other appliances are used in unique manners in order to align the jaw well before adulthood. Bites that aren’t corrected will impact the person’s speech, eating habits and hygiene for the rest of their lives.

Considering Speech Impediments

A niche within orthodontia that’s often overlooked is helping with speech impediments. Lisps and slurring are common among patients with impediments that involve physical challenges. Orthodontists might align the patient’s jaw and teeth through an Invisalign process, and then the patient visits a speech therapist. Through both physical and mental therapies, speech impediments can be muted or eradicated altogether.

There is no “quick fix” for speech impediments, which makes an orthodontist’s work so refined. The professionals evaluate each patient for a corrective pathway that suits only them.

Examining Misaligned Teeth

One of the biggest differences between dental and orthodontic work is the focus on aligned teeth. The orthodontia arts are defined by the use of braces and retainers in order to achieve straight and spaced-out teeth.

Patients go through an evaluation that determines if appliances are necessary. The professional attach the items to the teeth or fits them to mold. It takes several months or years to completely align a patient’s jaw. Through systematic adjustments, the appliances force the teeth into positions that will improve the patient’s quality of life and ultimate smile.

Looking Ahead to Retention

Patients are always thrilled when their appliances are finally removed. The treatment period is over. However, the teeth don’t remain in place without some orthodontia help. Retention is the period after appliances where patients are trying to maintain their smiles. Wearing a retainer is part of the process. Most patients will wear the retainer for the rest of their lives as they sleep. It may require adjustments at times. The retainer prevents any tooth shifts that might mar the overall alignment.

Learn More At Childers Orthodontics

At Childers Orthodontics in Illinois, our orthodontist can examine your teeth to determine if you need treatment with Damon System braces or Invisalign aligners. Children, teenagers, and adults can have an examination to learn more about straightening their teeth. We offer appointments at these locations:

• Herrin – 618-997-1800
• Harrisburg – 618-252-0770
• Benton – 618-997-1800

You can have your orthodontic devices created with robotic SureSmile equipment to have the best treatment possible for your teeth. Dr. Kyle R. Childers offers iTero archwires, AcceleDent Aura devices and Propel procedures to reduce the amount of time required for wearing orthodontic devices.



Call us to schedule your first orthodontic evaluation.

Childers Orthodontics

201 West Washington
Benton, IL 62812
Phone: (618) 438-2815

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