General Dentistry Versus Orthodontics

Before you delve into the world of orthodontics and the interlocking weaves of braces, let’s clear up the distinction of orthodontics from general dentistry. Perhaps the best way to differentiate an orthodontist from a general dentist is an analogy with more familiar medical practitioners.

You go to your family doctor for regular checkups, but when he thinks something more serious is brewing, he refers you to a specialist, like a surgeon. Your family doctor is like your general dentist, and the specialist surgeon is analogous to an orthodontist.

Orthodontics is the first of nine official specialties of dentistry, so in effect, an orthodontist is a dentist specializing in a particular field of his trade. The focus of orthodontics is the diagnosis and correction of malocclusions, or improper bites.

Don’t get confused – the way you bite is not the concern here. The issue revolves around necessary corrections to the teeth, and in some cases, the jaws. You have a proper bite if your maxillary first molar’s mesiobuccal cusp occludes with the mandibular first molar’s buccal grove.

Basically, the cusps of specific upper and lower grinding teeth (near the rear of the mouth) should come together a certain way when biting down. When the alignment is off, the bite is rendered improper. Your dentist can tell if you have malocclusion that requires the specialist services of an orthodontist Arlington.

Regular dental checkups, oral prophylaxes (mouth cleaning), and general tooth filling are the domain of your general dentist. Braces, headgear, retainers, removable appliances, and oral surgery, on the other hand, are your orthodontist’s job. His responsibilities are simple:

-Diagnose the malocclusion
-Formulate a game plan on how to correct it
-Explain it to you in a way that won’t make your nose bleed (and in a manner that you fully understand your options, inherent risks, and alternatives), and
Wait for you to give the go-signal for treatment.

Discussing your treatment options and particulars is essential, so don’t hesitate to communicate with the orthodontist your dentist recommends for you.

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