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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Introduction

    Dentistry is a broad type of medical specialty that focuses on the care and treatment of the mouth, gums, throat, and overall oral care. An orthodontist is a type of dentist that specializes in fixing misaligned teeth, jaw alignment, and bite patterns. One way to distinguish between the two is that all orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists. In their lifetime, everyone should regularly see a dentist. However, only people with specific dental problems will need to see an orthodontist.

  • What is an orthodontist?

    An orthodontist is a specialty dentist who receives advanced training to diagnose and treat overbites, overcrowded mouths, misaligned teeth and jaws, and occlusions. After diagnosing the issue, an orthodontist will recommend a treatment course that may include surgery, braces, retainers, tooth removal, and more. An orthodontist receives more training than a general dentist to become an expert in their specific field of dentistry.

  • Are orthodontists doctors?

    Yes, all dentists are doctors of oral health. Dentists receive a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree or a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree (DDS). As orthodontists are a type of dentist, they qualify as a doctor.

  • What is the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?

    A dentist treats a wide variety of issues. An orthodontist is a specialist who has received extra training to focus on one aspect of dentistry — teeth and jaw alignment. An orthodontist has all the training the dentist has and could drop orthodontics and practice general dentistry. In comparison, a dentist would need to have the additional education to become an orthodontist. 

  • What does an orthodontist do?

    People go to an orthodontist when they have teeth or jaw abnormalities. An orthodontist treats:

    • Crooked teeth
    • Crowded teeth
    • Overly spaced teeth
    • Bite alignment issues, such as an overbite or an underbite
    • Jaw misalignment
    • Facial symmetry issues
    The orthodontist's objective is to improve the patient's teeth so they have a straight and functioning smile that allows them to speak, eat, and look normal.

  • Do you have to be referred to an orthodontist?

    Most orthodontists today don’t require a referral to book a consultation appointment with a new patient. However, you may wish to get a referral from your dentist to get a recommendation. If you’re hoping to get your orthodontic care covered by insurance, your insurance may require a referral. Contact your insurance provider to confirm your coverage and details.

  • Do orthodontists keep retainer molds?

    People often lose or break their retainer. If that happens, they’ll need to visit their orthodontist and pay for a new retainer. Luckily, since orthodontists know this happens so frequently, most keep retainer molds on file to get a new one made for you immediately.

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