Help! What Do I Need, a Dentist or an Orthodontist?

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You need your teeth cleaned, and you’re looking to get Invisalign treatment. You can go to the same person, right? No, actually. You need a dentist for teeth cleaning and an orthodontist for Invisalign treatment. But wait! Aren’t they the same thing? Once again, no. Knowing the difference is good so you know where to go to get what you need for your oral health. 

Take Dr. Zombek at Zombek Orthodontics. He trained for years to be a dentist, so technically, he’s a dentist. But he also continued his education with specialized training to become an orthodontist. That extra training and certification are what prepared him to give you the best options available for you when it comes to braces and Invisalign treatment. 

What Is a Dentist?

You’ve probably seen those word puzzles, “If all squeaks are squawks, and some squawks are beeps, are all beeps squeaks?” People have the same confusion over dentists vs. orthodontists. Are all dentists orthodontists? Are all orthodontists dentists? The confusion lies in the fact that dentists and orthodontists start with the same training — to be dentists. 

A dentist trains in general dentistry at a dental school. Once they graduate from that school, they are ready to work in general dentistry. They are trained to do everything you expect dentists to do: clean teeth, fill cavities, provide fluoride treatments, and install crowns, among other things. They can work with other dentists or open their own practice. 

What they can’t do is treat patients with braces or clear aligners. They need extra training for that.

What Is an Orthodontist?

An orthodontist starts the same way as a dentist by training in dental school. Unlike the dentist, the orthodontist’s training doesn’t end with dental school. They have to continue their education in a special certification program. This is where they learn the special field of orthodontics, which includes moving teeth with precision to create beautiful smiles and correct bad bites. They are officially orthodontists once they receive their certifications. 

Look at it this way: All cardiologists are doctors, but not all doctors are cardiologists. If you have heart problems, you’ll want to go to a cardiologist, not a general practice doctor. It’s the same with dentists and orthodontists. If you want to keep your teeth clean and your mouth healthy, you want to visit a dentist. If you want to straighten your teeth, you need to see an orthodontist. 

What Is a Cosmetic Dentist?

You may have heard of another term, “cosmetic dentistry.” What exactly is that? Is a cosmetic dentist an orthodontist, or is a cosmetic dentist a dentist? Like the orthodontist, the cosmetic dentist is in a specialized field. They start with dental school but obtain special certifications to perform services such as veneers or crowns, tooth repair, tooth whitening, and color tooth matching. A few may offer Invisalign training, but that’s usually left to an orthodontist. 

Orthodontic Treatment Smile Reveal

When Do I Visit a Dentist or an Orthodontist? 

Now that you know the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist, when do you visit which one? If you want your teeth cleaned, visit your dentist. What if you have a cavity? Dentist! Who do you need for braces? You need an orthodontist! What other services do you leave to the orthodontist?

As an orthodontist, Dr. Zombek can treat you with braces or Invisalign clear aligners. He can treat adults, and he can treat children with these services. He can install devices that can help correct a bad bite in your mouth or your child’s, from a tongue crib to reposition the tongue away from the teeth before braces to palate expanders that widen the upper jaw and prepare it for straight teeth. 

Does this mean you won’t need to see your dentist while getting orthodontic treatment? Not at all! In fact, you need to be diligent with your semi-annual cleanings to ensure you don’t get cavities during treatment. Your dentist will take care of the cavities if you get any, but we hope you will brush and floss regularly to prevent this from happening. Once your braces are off, your dentist will thoroughly clean your teeth so you can see how gorgeous your new smile is! 

Getting Started With an Orthodontist in South Florida

Has your dentist recommended you see an orthodontist? If you live in the Weston, FL, or the Hollywood, FL, areas, we invite you to visit us and see what we can do for you! Zombek Orthodontics can get you started with our virtual consult tool, which lets you tell us about your case from the comfort of your own home through a computer or mobile device. Then, we’ll bring you in for a thorough evaluation and let you know the best treatment for you. You’ll love your new smile from your orthodontist! 

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