Orthodontists vs Dentists and Other Dental Specialties

Orthodontists vs Dentists

Our mouths are very complex structures. Dentists are generally anyone’s first thoughts when you consider subjects related to oral health; however, general dentists alone cannot do everything anyone needs to properly care for their dental health. Considering there are so many specialties, you may wonder what happens when you compare them all. Who wins in an orthodontists vs dentists match? let’s see.

In our case, here in Estes Orthodontics, we have two amazing orthodontists who focus on providing our patients with the highest level of care possible to work on the alignment of teeth and jaws. Still, orthodontics is not the only specialty in the field of oral medicine.

Currently, the American Dental Association (ADA) recognizes 12 specialties in the field of dental health medicine:

  • Dental Anesthesiology
  • Dental Public Health
  • Endodontics
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Oral Medicine
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontics
  • Orofacial Pain
  • Orthodontics

Currently, only around 6% of dental health specialists are orthodontists, and we are glad to belong to that group. Orthodontists help patients realign their teeth to ensure excellent oral health and a cosmetically pleasing smile.

So how do orthodontists differ from a general dentist? Are there any things one does the other cannot? Let’s discuss these matters.

Orthodontists vs Dentists – The Similarities

All orthodontists begin their professional careers as dentists do. Any undergraduate student will have to complete three or more years of their initial education and add four dental school years to receive a general dentist certification.

Initially, they have to achieve a degree as a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry/Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD). There are no significant differences between these two certifications; a dental school will award one or the other.

Any dentist can then choose to specialize in any of the fields mentioned above. Even so, professionals have racked up hundreds of hours of experience, some residencies, and a lot of knowledge in general medicine, surgery, and anatomy.

Another aspect where both orthodontists and dentists are very similar is the promotion of good oral hygiene. We won’t shut up about it. Oral hygiene is vital for any individual hoping to avoid most causes of dental health complications.

Dental hygiene is critical to dentists and orthodontists because we can control it. Patients may require help correcting developmental and congenital problems, but we can all do a few important things to make our dental hygiene routines the very best they can be.

Generally speaking, your dentist is interested in helping you maintain good oral hygiene for the same reasons as an orthodontist. Good oral hygiene helps prevent tooth decay, gingivitis, periodontitis, halitosis, and tooth loss. Whether you have orthodontic appliances or not, regularly brushing and flossing your teeth helps maintain good oral health.

Orthodontists vs Dentists – Orthodontic Treatments

Well, now is our time to shine.

Dental specialists such as ourselves here at Estes Orthodontics had to have completed additional programs after receiving our DDS or DMD. This specialized program includes other residencies and over 4800 hours of training to teach us everything we should know about safely moving our patients’ teeth and jaws to achieve an ideal relation.

Orthodontists pursue a career focused on your teeth and jaw alignment. Everything we do aims to help give patients a beautiful smile. Thus, our specialized orthodontic services apply force over your dental structures to safely move them into the correct position.

We could classify the various types of treatment depending on your age or the type of braces and appliance you use to correct or prevent problems with your bite.

Depending On Your Braces and Other Appliances

That’s right; orthodontic services benefit from various types of braces, advancements in materials technology, and design innovations.

We rely primarily on this wide variety of appliances to help our patients choose the right option. We will always consider first what needs to happen with your teeth first. An orthodontist equipped with proper training knows that to safely turn, push, pull, and move each tooth, we need various tools and a lot of patience.

Next up, we also consider how these tools integrate into our patients’ lifestyles. You might prefer reliability and durability over how the appliance looks; others might value more a discreet appliance and choose to be more careful about what they eat. Some patients have a budget that includes perks such as removable and near-invisible trays.

You could consider any of the following:

  • Traditional Braces
    • Stainless Steel
    • Ceramic Compounds
  • Clear Aligners

Always ask your orthodontist about the types of braces available at their office and what each option entails.

Get In Touch With an Orthodontist

Estes orthodontics is a dental health practice determined to provide the highest level of dental care to our patients from Richmond, El Cerrito, Berkeley, and Albany, CA.

You can get in touch with the team over the phone at (510) 525-1772 or schedule an appointment online. We will be thrilled to welcome you to our office located in Albany, CA. Here, you will find a team committed to helping you build a beautiful smile for a lifetime. Let us help you achieve that beautiful smile and swing by.

Hygiene and Tooth Decay during Treatment

Developing and sticking to a good dental hygiene routine is essential for your dental health. They’re habits everyone should learn from a young age, but some of the first to suffer when our daily routine changes. Brushing your teeth, flossing, and using mouthwash help reduce the risk of serious dental health complications at any point in our lives.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to remember why dental health professionals make such a fuzz about these oral hygiene basics. Do you know what we can prevent with good dental hygiene habits? How to take care of your teeth during orthodontic treatment?

What treatments are available to help with these common issues?

The Problem With Tooth Decay

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), 26% of adults and 42% of children suffer from some type of tooth decay. That’s alarmingly high, making tooth decay one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the US.

Failing to clear any food that remains stuck between our teeth after a meal increases the opportunity of damage. These food particles attract harmful bacteria; they feed on the remains of your meals and produce acids that erode your tooth’s enamel layer. Given sufficient time, you will notice plaque and tartar building up.

Eventually, these harmful agents expose your tooth’s soft tissues and infect them. This situation can lead to severe infections and tooth loss. Depending on the patient’s age, such a loss can result in developmental problems, such as difficulty speaking or fragile self-esteem.

Another factor contributing to this problem is our dietary choices. The higher the sugar content is in our food or beverage choice, the greater the risk of damaging our teeth.

Be careful about what you eat or drink on a regular basis, and remember to clean your teeth thoroughly after a meal.

Could Anything Be More Serious Than Tooth Decay?

Oh. We’re just getting started.

A lack of good hygiene can result in additional complications. As more and more bacteria feed off the sugar left in your mouth from your previous meal, the conditions affect your mouth’s soft tissues. Your gums begin to look swollen, red and even bleed easily.

Such symptoms can initially indicate gingivitis. Gingivitis is a mild form of periodontal disease that causes the gum tissue around your teeth’ base to become inflamed, red, and bleed.

Your condition can become worse. As your dental hygiene condition worsens, the plaque resulting from the high concentration of harmful bacteria and food debris in your mouth degrades more than just the enamel layer of the tooth. Your jaw bone begins to suffer as well.

The base holding your tooth in place becomes weaker and recedes, leaving the root exposed and leading to tooth loss.

Such severe cases of periodontal disease are called periodontitis by dental health professionals.

Dental Hygiene and What Else to Maintain Good Oral Health?

You must use fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth well at least twice a day, if not every time you have a meal. Make sure to use dental floss daily to remove any food particles between your teeth, and use a good mouthwash to rinse your mouth and eliminate harmful bacteria in your mouth.

You also need to pay close attention to your dietary habits. Stay away from excessively sugary or acidic products for the best results.

Those are all excellent ways to take care of your health at home, but professionals in the field have some additional tricks up their sleeves.

You could ask your general dentist about preventative dentistry procedures, including dental sealants and fluoride applications.

Sealants will help cover the biting surface of your molars to minimize the area where more and more food particles could lodge. Fluoride is an incredible treatment. It leverages the use of a naturally occurring element to help reabsorb minerals into the tooth’s enamel layer and improve its structural integrity.

Make sure you consult with a professional about these treatments to help keep your teeth as healthy as you can. Working for dental health is all about teamwork.

Can My Dental Hygiene Routine Undo the Damage?

Maintaining good hygiene is mostly about preventing the problems mentioned above. If there is some type of problem, you should consult with the right specialist to work on that as soon as possible. If there is some damage, a dental health professional can help treat the condition and limit the impact on your dental health.

Consider some restorative treatments like root canals and dental fillings to clear infected tissues and restore your tooth’s structural integrity.

Be Careful During your Orthodontic Treatment

When we are planning treatment to realign your dental structures, the last thing we want is to compromise your dental health.

Orthodontists know that your teeth need to be as strong and healthy as possible before using orthodontic appliances to shift their positions.

We wouldn’t advise starting your orthodontic treatment without at least having a concrete plan to work on your periodontal health problems.

Specialists can work in conjunction to provide you with the best results. Still, we’ll need to make an initial revision of your mouth with advanced imaging and physical examinations to get there.

After your orthodontic treatment begins, we will also make emphasis on maintaining your dental hygiene. Brackets bonded onto each tooth are also perfect candidates to lodge food particles, so you’ll need to adapt your dental hygiene to compensate for the additional risks.

Don’t worry; there are standards all dental health professionals should follow to achieve the best results.

Start Your Journey Now

Dr. Laurie Estes and the team here at Estes Orthodontics are thrilled to help you achieve the smile you’ve been dreaming about.

We’ll make sure to review your dental health status before engaging in orthodontic treatment. Once all is clear, we’ll gladly go over the various options available to you for your alignment treatment. We are located here in the beautiful city of Albany, CA. We also serve patients coming from nearby cities, and if you are looking for the perfect smile, you can begin that journey with us.

Give us a call at (510) 525-1772 or set your next appointment online to check what you can do with appliances like traditional metal braces, Invisalign® clear aligners, or ceramic braces.

See you soon!

Can Wisdom Teeth Affect my Orthodontic Treatment?

Successfully completing your orthodontic treatment requires a lot of effort and some sacrifices. It’s logical to assume that you don’t want anything to ruin your experience or undo your efforts. Cue the eruption of wisdom teeth.

There is much misinformation out there, and many patients fear that these third molars can cause severe overcrowding even after you’ve completed your treatment.

Should you hold off any orthodontic interventions until someone removes your wisdom teeth? Would it be better if you took a risk and used orthodontic appliances before your third molars erupt? Are there any risks at all if your wisdom teeth erupt?

Should You Be Worried About Your Wisdom Teeth?

Well, yes. Your wisdom teeth can bring about some complications you need to worry about, but maybe not in the way you expected.

Most people fear that as soon as their wisdom teeth decide to come out, all of their front teeth will shift positions. However, there are no clear cause-effect relationships between the eruption of your wisdom teeth and your frontal teeth position shift.

Still, there are other things you should be worried about.

Ultimately, the idea behind anyone’s orthodontic treatment is to work on their dental structures’ alignment. If you start orthodontic care from a young age, the initial focus is set to create sufficient space for the eruption of your permanent teeth.

But no matter how much we try, achieving such results while accommodating enough space for your wisdom teeth may prove challenging at best.

When your third molars finally feel like stepping outside and erupt from the gum line, they can do so at such a bad angle that there’s no way they can easily erupt.

Do keep in mind that everyone’s case is different. Some patients never have any issues with their wisdom teeth, having enough space for when they finally show up. Others may only have a couple of these molars, while some never even develop these peculiar teeth.

If any obstacles are preventing the normal eruption of your wisdom teeth, they may become impacted.

The Dangers of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

We say a tooth became “impacted” if it doesn’t have enough space to erupt or develop naturally. These cases can quickly result in minor inconveniences or develop into severe health issues.

Patients with impacted wisdom teeth can feel some of the following symptoms:

  • Jaw pain
  • Swollen and red gums
  • Tender and bleeding gums
  • Bad breath

The underlying problem is that these symptoms could signify dangerous periodontal problems in your mouth.

This fascinating 2017 article exposes the dangers posed by impacted third molars to an adjacent tooth and your periodontal tissues.

When your tooth stays trapped below the gum-line, it creates a pocket and increases the risk of developing severe infections. If this area fills with liquids, it can lead to a cyst that erodes your jawbone and damages the area’s nerves.

This condition also increases the risk of tooth decay in the surrounding teeth, eroding the enamel layers and exposing your tooth’s soft tissues, where an infection can spread to other parts of your body.

Should I Remove My Wisdom Teeth Before or After My Braces?

If they pose a threat to your oral health, any dental health professional reviewing your case will refer you to the adequate team to remove those molars.

As we’ve mentioned, your third molars won’t hurt your other teeth’ alignment, but they can become a serious threat to your dental health.

Usually, orthodontic treatment starts and finishes long before these unwise teeth erupt. Considering they usually come out after the patient is 17 years old, you should have enough time to start your orthodontic treatment with any convenient orthodontic appliance in your early teens.

You could use Invisalign® clear aligners, the durable and reliable traditional metal braces, discreet ceramic braces options, or any other appliance that fits your needs.

Frequent visits to your orthodontist or general dentist will help plan according to the status of your wisdom teeth. If the team notices these molars becoming a problem, you will have sufficient time to prepare for the removal and carry on with the healthiest version of your smile.

Consulting With a Professional

Dr. Laurie Estes and the team at Estes Orthodontics are happy to help patients looking for orthodontic treatment in Albany. CA.

Make sure you consult with a professional about your unique circumstances. We will gladly coordinate with you to start your journey towards a beautiful and healthy smile. You can rest assured that we will take such things as the eruption of your wisdom teeth into consideration when planning your treatment.

If there are any risks to your dental health, such as periodontal disease, we will coordinate to work on these issues before using braces or aligners to realign your teeth.

Our goal is to help you achieve beautiful smiles for a lifetime. Give us a call at (510) 525-1772 or set up an appointment online.