If you’re in need of care for your bite, jaw, wisdom teeth, or crowded teeth, you may be unsure about which dental professional you should visit—an orthodontist or an oral surgeon. This overview will clear common confusion regarding these two dental professions.
Aside from attending dental school and holding memberships in dental organizations, oral surgeons and orthodontists have distinct differences. In a nutshell, an orthodontist specializes in straightening teeth while an oral surgeon is the surgical specialist of the dental profession.
Continue reading to learn about the differences between these two professions.
Both oral surgeons and orthodontists are required to complete a bachelor’s degree and four years of dental school. Afterward, they complete a residency in their specialties.
An oral surgeon’s four-year residency focuses on an in-depth study of the anatomy of the skin, bones, and muscles of the face, mouth, and jaws. During this program, the residents learn plastic surgery, emergency medicine, and ears, nose, and throat medicine (collectively called otolaryngology). This four-year residency is specifically chosen and accredited by the American Dental Association.
After completing dental school, an orthodontist’s residency is focused on properly aligning teeth. The aim goes beyond delivering beautiful smiles. Orthodontists are tasked with helping patients speak, bite, and chew with ease.
Oral surgeons and orthodontists treat a variety of dental issues, and they often work together to fix a common problem. For example, patients who have jaw or facial deformities or need corrective jaw surgery may require both specialists.
Both orthodontists and oral surgeons commonly refer patients to each other for specialized treatments.
Common oral surgical issues include:
- Impacted wisdom teeth
- Tooth loss
- TMJ disorder
- Fractured jawbone
- Broken facial bones
- Cleft lip
- Sleep apnea
Common orthodontic issues include:
- Crowded teeth
- Gapped teeth
- Open bite
- Impacted teeth
The Right Treatment for You
No matter what your dental problem, often, the best place to start is with your orthodontist.
Oral surgery is invasive by nature. Orthodontists are more likely to offer conservative treatments to address common dental issues, meaning you will reap the same benefits without sowing as much of your time, money, and energy.
Your orthodontist will have your best interests in mind. If oral surgery is necessary, he or she will refer you to an oral surgical specialist.
You may also want to ask your general dentist for advice on where to start. Your general dentist knows your oral health history, and he or she will understand your specific needs and goals.
Schedule an Appointment Today
If you are in need of orthodontic treatment, your Sacramento orthodontists at Markham Orthodontics are prepared and excited to help you achieve a beautiful, fully-functioning smile.
Read our testimonials page to hear from our satisfied patients, and browse our website to learn more about our dental practice and the services we offer.
To schedule your appointment with one of our top of the line orthodontists or for any questions, contact our friendly staff today at 916-525-8566.