The general public is mostly unfamiliar with specialisations in dentistry and refers to doctors from each domain of oral care as a dentist. However, dentistry contains numerous specialities that deal with different areas and perform distinct functions. Therefore, every orthodontist is a dentist, but not every dentist is an orthodontist.
Every dentist is well-versed in the diagnosis and treatment of all the oral and maxillofacial diseases, but certain conditions need specialised care and are dealt with under specialised departments.
This article will help you realise the fundamental differences between a dentist and an orthodontist. So, you will be able to decide with better judgment, whom to consult for your problem.
What is an orthodontist?
Orthodontists are doctors who deal with the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of malpositioned oral structures. They correct malocclusion, which includes bite aberrations such as an overbite, underbite, crossbite, or open bite, abnormal position of jaws, crowded teeth, or malpositioned teeth.
If left untreated, these conditions don’t resolve but keep on getting worse with time. They may cause functional as well as cosmetic problems by distorting the facial symmetry. In these cases, the role of an orthodontist comes into play. An orthodontist will not only correct the already prevalent disease but also prevent any potential problems from occurring.
When do you need to visit an orthodontist?
The primary objective of orthodontic treatment is to straighten your teeth and align them perfectly to give you a charming smile. Your aim of going to an orthodontist can be cosmetic problems or functional problems. Here are some of the reasons why your dentist will refer you to a specialised orthodontist:
-To correct crooked teeth
-To align the tips of teeth at an even level
-To approximate your teeth and close the wide gaps in between them known as diastemas
-Treating an overbite, underbite, crossbite, or open bite due to abnormal position of the jaws
-To prevent excessive wear and tear of the teeth in the long run
-Improving the chewing ability of your teeth
What are the common methods used by an orthodontist?
An orthodontic treatment comprises of the following methods:
- Braces- The use of props is a typical treatment for correcting misalignment. There are numerous types of braces available nowadays. Apart from the traditional metallic braces, Invisalign clear braces are gaining popularity at a fast rate. Ceramic braces and porcelain braces are also available to correct your teeth in a cosmetically favourable manner. Generally, braces are worn over the outer visible portion of the teeth, but a new variety, i.e., the lingual braces can be worn over the posterior hidden surface.
- Fixed space maintainers- As the name indicates, fixed space maintainers are used to maintain the space between two teeth when the tooth between them is lost prematurely. This is a temporary method used until the permanent tooth erupts in its place.
- Headgear- It is an “extra-oral” device that is worn by the patient over his head to help in the correction of malocclusion. As malocclusion occurs due to the abnormal position of the jaw, this device will gradually bring the jaw bone (mandible) in its correct position. This is used when teeth are severely misaligned, and the bite is also distorted to a great extent. The headgear is commonly used along with the braces to correct the alignment of teeth and jaw simultaneously.
- Palatal expanders- These are devices used in patients where the upper jaw is out of proportion with the lower jaw. These are used to expand the upper jaw (maxilla) so that the upper and lower set of dentition is aligned, and the basic functions of biting, chewing, and speaking can be performed accurately. This is commonly used in young children because their bones are delicate and still under development so that it can be adjusted accordingly. After expanding the palate, the braces are used to correct the teeth, which may become misaligned during the process. However, braces are never used concomitantly with a palatal expander because it may exert undue pressure on the teeth.
- Retainers- These may be fixed or removable. Retainers are customised moulds made up of clear plastic used to hold the teeth in place and align them in the correct position.
- Aligners- These are alternatives to braces and provide the same function in a more aesthetic as well as in a faster way. Invisalign is a series of invisible aligners that are gaining popularity at a rapid rate.
- Removable space maintainers- These perform the same task of maintaining the space between two teeth as fixed space maintainers do. The only difference is that these can be removed if the child feels uneasy. These are made up of an acrylic base to fit over the jaw and branches made of plastic to keep the space between the teeth intact and prevent them from getting crooked.
- Jaw repositioning appliances- These are commonly known as splints and are used when the upper or lower jaw is misaligned.
What should you expect from an appointment with an Orthodontist?
Your dentist will take a history and perform an oral examination to know the degree of misalignment in your teeth. Some conditions may require imaging, such as an X-ray, to know how much correction will be necessary. Each treatment takes a different time, and you may be required to visit the dentist more than once. However, you may also have to pay regular visits to the dentist for a routine oral checkup and the assessment of the progression of the treatment used. If you are using Invisalign clear aligners, you will be required to visit the dentist for each next set. The treatment spans a period of months to years. You should be patient during the treatment because your teeth are very delicate structures, and the treatment can only be gradual.
So, if you are also suffering from crooked teeth or misaligned teeth and looking for an orthodontist. Conway House Dental Practice has a team of one of the best dentists in High Wycombe who will cover all your dental problems under a single roof including an orthodontist. Our specialist treatment includes dentists from each domain of dentistry, so you don’t have to worry about visiting different clinics after referral. All your needs will be catered to most efficiently by our enthusiastic and friendly staff. For further queries, reach out to us by calling 01494526578 today.