Differences Between Orthodontists and Other Types of Dentists

Dentists Looking at a teeth x-ray

Orthodontists, Dentists, Prosthodontists, Endodontists, Periodontists and Cosmetic Dentists are all strongly linked since they all work hard to improve patients’ oral health.

Although they all specialise in oral healthcare and share many things in common, they all actually work in very different ways.

This article will explain how about how orthodontists, dentists, prosthodontists, endodontists, periodontists and cosmetic dentists differ so that you can decide which type of doctor you need to see.

Table of Contents

What is an Orthodontist?

Orthodontists are doctors who specialise in correcting the position of the teeth. Having trained in general dentistry, orthodontists are trained to diagnose and treat afflictions of your teeth, gums, tongue and mouth. This makes them quite similar to dentists.

However, orthodontists must undergo an additional three years of educational training to specialise in diagnostics and treatments of tooth and jaw alignment.

What Do Orthodontists Do?

To ensure your teeth and jaw are set correctly, orthodontists provide the following care:

  • Diagnoses and treats malocclusion – misaligned teeth and jaws
  • Creates treatment and installation plans for teeth straightening solutions. This includes the installation of dental appliances such as metal braces, Invisalign, Damon braces, Incognito braces, AcceleDent, Symetri Clear Braces and retainers
  • Supervises facial growth – bite and jawline – in children
  • Performs teeth straightening surgery and procedures

Difference Between Orthodontists and Dentists


What is a Dentist?

Dentists are doctors of oral health who have been extensively trained in dentistry before to becoming certified. Certified dentists diagnose and treat oral health conditions relating to your teeth, gums, mouth and tongue.

What Do Dentists Do?

To make sure your oral health is in great condition, dentists provide the following care:

  • Boosts and nurtures oral hygiene and oral health
  • Fills cavities
  • Extracts teeth
  • Repairs cracked teeth
  • Fills and bonds teeth
  • Treat gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis
  • Whitens teeth
  • Fits crowns or veneers
  • Guides the development of children’s teeth
  • Performs and interprets dental x-rays and oral surgery
  • Prescribes treatment for oral health – these can include prescriptions

    Child receiving dental care

What is the Difference Between an Orthodontist and Dentist?

Dentists can be seen as general practitioners and orthodontists as a specialist. General oral health issues such as tooth decay, repair and extraction, as well as gum disease can all be diagnosed and tended to by a dentist. An orthodontist installs braces and diagnoses misaligned jaws, also specialising in tooth crowding and palate expansion when needed.

Both orthodontists and dentists go to college to pursue a pre-dentistry or pre-medical undergraduate degree before going on to a graduate school of dentistry.

Due to their specialised expertise in tooth and jaw alignment, orthodontists are required to receive an additional educational training of 2 to 3 years and receive a specialty certification in orthodontics before going into practice.

Difference Between Prosthodontists and Orthodontists


What is a Prosthodontist?


Prosthodontists are doctors who specialise in the restoration and replacement of complex dental and facial affairs that have to do with artificial devices. Prosthodontists are thoroughly trained in dental implants, bridges, crowns, dentures and jaw disorders.

What Do Prosthodontists Do?

To assist with your aesthetic oral restoration or reconstruction, prosthodontists provide the following care:

  • Replace teeth with prosthetics – bridges or dentures
  • Restore damaged teeth with crowns, veneers or bonding
  • Insert and restore dental implants
  • Reconstruct smiles using crowns, implants, bridges, veneers and dentures
  • Assist with sleep apnoea, snoring disorders, and cleft palates

Periodontist creating dental implant as part of overall orthodontic care

What is the Difference Between an Orthodontist and Prosthodontist?

Orthodontists have specialised expertise in tooth and jaw alignment, primarily focusing on ensuring your teeth and jaw are set correctly. On the other hand, prosthodontists focus on tooth and facial restoration.

Difference Between Orthodontists and Endodontists


What is an Endodontist?

Endodontists specialise in diseases of the dental pulp and their treatments. Endodontists have expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of oral and facial pain that has been difficult to diagnose by other oral experts.

What Do Endodontists Do?

To find the best treatment option for your dental pulp, endodontists provide the following care:

  • Minor and major root canal treatments
  • Administer numbing medications
  • Apical surgeries – most commonly an apicoectomy
  • Address traumatic dental injuries
  • Treat bacterial infections of the pulp
  • Place dental implants
  • Treatment for tooth pain and sensitivity
  • Treatment for tooth fractures or traumatic tooth damage

What is the Difference Between an Orthodontists and Endodontists?

Endodontists do not clean teeth or place fillings. A dentist or orthodontist may refer you to an endodontist if you have issues with your dental pulp and/or have pain relating to teeth, as neither orthodontists nor dentists specialise in this.

Difference Between Orthodontists and Periodontists


What is a Periodontist?

Periodontists are dentists who specialise in diagnosing, treating and preventing gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis.

Periodontists work to improve your smile by helping you to manage signs of advancing gum problems – such as tooth decay and oral inflammation – in order to maintain a healthy gum line and reduce pain and sensitivity. Periodontists only specialise in the treatment of the gums and bones that support the teeth.

What Do Periodontists Do?

Periodontists provide the following care:

  • Scaling and root planing – these are non-surgical treatments that remove plaque and tartar that is deeply present underneath the gum line
  • Prescribes tray delivery systems
  • Gum grafts
  • Laser treatments
  • Regenerative procedures for bone and tissue growth
  • Dental crown lengthening
  • Remove surplus gum tissue
  • Osseous surgery
  • Ridge augmentation

What is the Difference Between an Orthodontist and Periodontist?

Periodontists treat gum problems. An orthodontist will refer you to a periodontist if they see signs of gum disease – signs include swollen or puffy gums, gums that easily bleed, halitosis and a receding gum line – during your appointment. Also, if you are running the risk of tooth loss due to issues with your gums, you may be referred to a periodontist as orthodontists do not generally deal with issues pertaining to gum disease.

Difference Between Orthodontists and Cosmetic Dentists


What is a Cosmetic Dentist?

Cosmetic dentists, also known as aesthetic dentists, improve the appearance of your smile by making sure that it is “camera-ready” by eliminating minor imperfections.

Cosmetic dentist fixes include issues relating to tooth decay, minor damage such as cracks and chips, slightly crooked and misshapen teeth, discolouration and missing teeth.

What Do Cosmetic Dentists Do?

For fixes that are cosmetic in nature and aimed at improving the smile, cosmetic dentists provide the following care:

  • Tooth-coloured fillings
  • Porcelain dental veneers
  • All-Ceramic restorations
  • Tooth Whitening
  • Minor tooth realignment – Invisalign
  • Inlays and onlays
  • Dental implants

What is the Difference Between an Orthodontist and Cosmetic Dentist?

Cosmetic dentists create elective rather than essential treatment plans for “smile makeovers” by treating teeth that are stained, discoloured, chipped, worn, misaligned, misshapen or broken. Orthodontists provide treatment plans to diagnose, prevent, and treat teeth and jaw irregularities that have the potential to harm your oral health.

Should You See an Orthodontist, Dentist, Prosthodontist, Endodontist, Periodontist or Cosmetic Dentist?

Orthodontists, dentists, prosthodontists, endodontists, periodontists and cosmetic dentists are all dental professionals, often with an educational background in dentistry.

What separates each of these professions is that they specialise in a particular area.

When Should You See a Dentist?

You should visit a dentist if you need preventive oral health care to ensure that your teeth are healthy and strong.

When Should You See a Prosthodontist?

You should visit a prosthodontist if you want to fix temporomandibular – pain and stiffness around your jaw, ear and temple – issues. Prosthodontists also address sleep and snoring disorders.

When Should You See an Endodontist?

You should visit an endodontist if you have severe pain surrounding your tooth’s root or pulp.

When Should You See a Periodontist?

You should visit a periodontist if you need treatment for unhealthy gums and show signs of gum disease.

When Should You See a Cosmetic Dentist?

You should visit a cosmetic dentist for elective treatment options that have to do with discoloured, misshapen, crooked teeth or missing teeth.

When Should You See an Orthodontist?

You should see an orthodontist if you have visibly crooked or crowded teeth, teeth that do not properly close over each other or jaw malocclusion (an underbite or overbite).

How We Can Help

Understanding the difference between an orthodontist vs. dentist vs. prosthodontist vs. endodontist vs. periodontist vs. cosmetic dentist will help you to seek the right professional help you need.

At Hampstead Orthodontic Practice, for more than 23 years, we have provided a variety of orthodontic services to deliver every single one of our patients a smile they can’t help but show off.

If you would like more information on our orthodontic treatments, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a FREE online consultation.

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