New orthodontic patients or potential patients sometimes ask us if they still need to see their dentist while receiving orthodontic care.
It’s a fair question, since not everyone knows the differences between the two professions, and might think that seeing one dental professional means that they don’t need the other.
But the truth is that you need them both – the orthodontist has a role in aligning your teeth and your dentist has a role in keeping them clean and healthy. In some cases, both professionals may even talk to each other about your teeth if collaboration is necessary.
Both of them have had similar foundations in dental school about how the mouth, jaw, and teeth work, except they took different directions in their training. Both of them, however, have received proper certification to be called doctor, just in different dental disciplines. Orthodontists also decided to continue with their dental training for another year or two.
Essentially, all orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists.
In most cases, you or family members may work with an orthodontist for only a year or two during the course of care that can include braces, but a dentist can potentially be part of your family’s life for years.
Your dentist also could be instrumental in helping keep the area around the braces clean during regular check-ups and cleaning. While patients are encouraged to brush and floss more often with braces and take good care of their hardware, it’s not always easy to get a toothbrush between the various gaps and spaces between the brackets, bands, or any retainers.
However, a dentist or a member of their staff will have the tools and expertise to get in close and make sure everything looks good. Various picks and other tools can get to some smaller areas and keep them clean.
Plus, regular dental visits to remove plaque and tartar shouldn’t be interrupted for however much time braces are in place. A dentist can also check your tongue and gums at each visit, and look for any cavities or any other changing conditions in your oral health.
Our office is always happy to clarify these roles and answer any questions about how we work with other dental professionals in our community.