The Difference Between An Orthodontist and Dentist

If you have ever been unsure whether to make an appointment with an orthodontist or a dentist, you are not the only one! While the two professions may sound similar, each helps your teeth thrive differently. We want to help you feel confident in making decisions on your oral health so you can get the best care for your needs. Our RiverView Orthodontics team wants to share the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist. 


Primary Responsibilities

An Orthodontist’s Expertise

You can rely on an orthodontist’s specialized skill set, like Dr. Upton’s, whenever you need tooth alignment or your jaw requires examination. They focus on diagnosing patients’ issues, creating personalized treatment plans, and effectively aligning teeth to the correct position, ensuring your smile looks its best and performs as expected. 

You may equate braces and straightening teeth with teenage years, but you can also get treatment at any point in your adult life. Whether the opportunity didn’t present itself when you were little or didn’t need care while in school, it is never too late to be seen by an orthodontist. RiverView Orthodontics welcomes patients of all ages to pursue their smile journey!

A Dentist’s Responsibilities

A dentist’s specialty is maintaining general dental health by providing semiannual teeth cleanings and working toward preventative care. During appointments, they can answer questions about correctly brushing and flossing your teeth, recommend the best dental products tailored to your specific set of oral needs, and assist with establishing a healthy oral hygiene routine.

You can bring your child in for an examination as young as twelve months old to ensure that their gums and teeth are off to a healthy start. Dentists treat patients of all ages throughout their lives, typically acting as the first eyes on any issues with your oral health. A primary aim of theirs is to ensure you have an exceptional base to work with so you can uphold proper dental hygiene without any issues. 


Your Treatment Options

Dental technology advances each year, allowing oral healthcare providers to give patients the most effective treatment available. Whether an orthodontist or a dentist sees you, you can expect a modern and comfortable experience as your oral complications are resolved.

All Things Alignment Related

Able to treat various issues, including bite complications, crowded teeth, gaps between your teeth, and TMD-related jaw discomfort, RiverView Orthodontics takes a proactive approach by solving any dental problems you may have and working with you on preventative care measures. Each presents its own obstacles, but don’t worry!

RiverView Orthodontics provides just as many solutions to effectively eliminate issues you are experiencing, including metal and ceramic braces, Invisalign, temporary anchorage devices (TAD), and mouthguards

Braces and Invisalign work to straighten out your teeth and provide you with a beautiful smile in return. TAD is an orthodontic device occasionally used in tandem with braces to move teeth quickly. Mouthguards keep your teeth from making direct contact at night and help diminish jaw pain caused by TMD.

Dr. Upton and our team strive to help patients leave our office feeling more confident than when they first came in, leaving them with a smile to last a lifetime.

General and Preventative Care 

A ubiquitous treatment offering, dentists provide invaluable cleanings to help your teeth function as designed for longer with the proper care between appointments. They remove plaque and tartar residue and clean inaccessible areas to eliminate any buildup. During cleanings, dentists also check for any early signs of gum disease or cavities and like to provide an early diagnosis. The earlier an issue is recognized, the earlier simple treatment can begin.

These routine visits act as the cornerstone of your dental health but allow your dentist to stay updated on your teeth so they can provide you with proactive steps towards keeping yourself healthy. 


The Difference Between An Orthodontist and Dentist

Formal Education and Training

The Road Towards Dentistry

An undergraduate Bachelor’s degree marks the start of every dentist and orthodontist’s educational journey. Typically gaining knowledge in a science-related field, students put their comprehension to the test when moving on to taking their dental admission test, earning a spot at a college of dentistry. Here, they learn high-quality patient care, preventative oral strategies, a wide range of procedures, and dental cleanings.

Graduation from dental school culminates in a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree, allowing dentists to work towards their official license to practice. Most dental students end their formal training here, but those interested in orthodontics continue.

Achieving Orthodontic License

Special training completed during an orthodontic residency consists of time split between the classroom and in a professional office, learning top patient care, the intricacies of bone development, and how to properly diagnose and treat issues specific to the scope of orthodontics. Lasting around two years, orthodontists end up completing a minimum of ten years of education before being able to pursue their license to practice.

They can continue by becoming a board-certified professional, further showcasing their commitment to the craft and desire to keep learning. Reap the benefits of being seen by a master in the treatment you seek.


The Difference Between An Orthodontist and Dentist

Begin Your Pathway Toward Informed Dental Decisions!

Dr. Upton and our team at RiverView Orthodontics are happy to walk you through your orthodontic needs and direct you to the right place if a dentist’s skills are better suited to address your specific concerns. We want to ensure you receive the most appropriate care for your dental goals. 

Feel free to contact our Tuscaloosa office at 205-752-4343 or our Demopolis office at 334-287-0200 to schedule your free consultation and learn what we can do for you. Our team is eager to help you start your smile journey!