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Difference Between A Dentist AND AN Orthodontist

A warm smile that flashes a healthy set of teeth and gums is a great way to make a perfect first impression and break the ice in any meeting. But very few of us are blessed with healthy teeth. Most of us suffer from some or the other ailment of the teeth and gums that compels us to visit a dental care specialist.

Whether to visit a dentist or an orthodontist is a dilemma that many people face. In reality, the dentist and an orthodontist, both are responsible for a healthy oral cavity.

What’s the difference between the two?

Though a dentist and an orthodontist both help to improve oral health, each one has his scope well defined.

A dentist is the first dental health care practitioner to approach in case of any dental emergency like toothache, bleeding gums, tooth infection etc.

On the other hand, an orthodontist is a specialized dental practitioner, who deals with irregularities of face and oral cavity.

Role of a dentist in the society

A person becomes a dentist after completing a four year undergraduate program followed by a four year graduate course in dentistry, after which he is awarded the degree of dental medicine or degree of dental surgery. So a dentist is well versed with the anatomy and physiology of the human body and a specialist in the structure and function of the oral cavity. He is primarily responsible for the preventive and corrective oral health of every individual in the society. He guides children as young as 7 years and even adults on the importance of maintaining a good oral hygiene. He teaches patients about the proper technique of brushing and flossing of teeth. He also enlightens patients about the bad food stuffs that cause damage to the teeth. A dentist carries out procedures such as removal of plaque, filling of cavity, root canal, placing crowns and bridges, tooth extraction, teeth whitening and cleaning etc. A dentist plays an important role in the screening of oral cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.

Role of an Orthodontist in the society

A person becomes an orthodontist after doing a two or three year specialisation course in this field after the four year dental program. An orthodontist can do all the procedures performed by a general dentist. But he focusses mainly on aesthetics of the facial structure, teeth and jaw.

Our masticatory or chewing function is a result of well synchronised working of the teeth, jaw, tongue and muscles of the jaw. If the upper and lower jaws are properly aligned, the teeth are positioned correctly over one another, leading to an energy efficient chewing process, speech and swallowing manoeuvre.

But this is not the case in most of the individuals across the globe. Most of us encounter problems of misaligned jaw, crowded teeth, gaps between the teeth, crooked teeth etc. Such a defect in the oral cavity leads to accumulation of food particles resulting in plaque formation, tooth decay and cavities. In addition to this, incorrectly aligned jaw leads to host of other problems such as headache that resembles migraine, face muscle spasm, sore jaw, locked jaw, trigger points around the neck that radiate pain in the upper limb and the head. These symptoms occur as the muscles of the face especially the buccal cavity are constantly in a state of tension. The orthodontist can help to diagnose and correct such maxillofacial deformities. The orthodontist also deals with correction of chipped, cracked or fractured teeth, receding gum tissue and cosmetic problems such as asymmetric facial structure as a result of trauma, collapsed teeth, drooping smile, laxity of lips etc.

To summarise, dentists deal with the basic problems of oral hygiene and dental care, whereas orthodontists deal with aesthetic and cosmetic aspects of the face and oral cavity.

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