If you've been putting off a visit to a dentist for a long time, you may have built up a number of problems. Well-meaning friends may have told you that you need to visit a specialist, due to your particular issues. In this case, do you need to go to the dentist or an orthodontist? What's the difference and how can they help?
Telling Them Apart
When comparing an orthodontist to a dentist you should know that both are highly skilled, but one focuses on the general aspects of your mouth, while the other can help you with particular irregularities. Both individuals need to go through a considerable period of training and licensing and both are aware of all the oral health issues and ways to fix them. All dentists are licensed to undertake surgery.
In an ideal world, a dentist would be someone to give you advice, to help with cleaning as necessary and just to tell you that you're doing a good job. Of course, for many people the dentist will also provide fillings, perhaps an extraction and replacement.
Sometimes, however, people are born with irregularities or through negligence develop dental systems that require specialist treatment. They may have too many teeth, or teeth that are growing in at an angle. They may have an improper bite. The orthodontist has trained for an additional couple of years in order to help correct these issues. Typically, your regular dentist will refer you to an orthodontist, when they find that what is needed is outside their general scope.
You may find that your dental problem has developed to such a degree that you're having problems functioning on a daily basis. You might find a speech impediment has appeared, or that it's challenging to chew your food. You may have aches and pains in your jaw, headaches or other issues that are related.
The first thing an orthodontist will do is to see how your teeth align and figure out a plan to help you correct the bite. This may involve some extractions, or the fitment of braces to help push your teeth back into line, over time. The specialist may also suggest suitable cosmetic procedures, including whitening or the fitting of crowns.
Finding out What's Right for You
There are several different specialties within the dental profession, so it's a good idea to speak with a general dentist to begin with, for onward referral if needed.
Hello, my name is Jack. I am now 79 years old. As you can imagine, my teeth have taken something of a battering over the years. I lost a couple of teeth in a bar fight, four more decayed and one had to be extracted when it became infected. After losing so many teeth, my dentist suggested that I have dentures fitted. I was worried about this but my dentist was really great. He helped explain the procedure and then did an excellent job. I love my new dentures and I wanted to start this blog to offer help to others.