Do you know the difference between a regular dentist and an orthodontist? And do you know when and why you should go and see them?
In honour of World Orthodontic Health Day this 15 May, we’re making it easy for you!
What’s the difference between a dentist and orthodontist?
Ok, so both dentists and orthodontists work to improve your oral health. Both must complete an undergraduate degree at dental school. While both can start practicing dentistry straight after graduating, orthodontists must go through lots more training to become qualified in their field.
This will include at least 3 more years in education. Plus, they’ll have to meet the strict criteria set by the Dental Specialists Accreditation Board of Singapore!
What do orthodontists treat?
Orthodontists aim to tackle irregularities in teeth and jaw alignment. Some of the common conditions that orthodontists manage include overcrowding, impacted teeth, protruding front teeth, long lower jaw resulting in an “underbite”, crooked jaw and deep overbite.
Orthodontic treatment takes on average 2 years to complete, some treatment may take faster or slower depending on the complexity required. An orthodontist has to be well versed in all types of irregularities in teeth and jaw alignment and thus this complex work is why they have to undergo such specialised training!
When should I go see a dentist?
You should always make time to visit your dentist regularly for a check-up, especially if you’ve had fillings, crowns or dental implants in the past. The recommended time to see your dentist is once every 6 months. But if a tooth or teeth are causing you pain, or your gums are puffy and bleeding, don’t wait for your next check-up – make an appointment immediately and get any problems checked out.
When should I go see an orthodontist?
It can be trickier to know when to visit an orthodontist. If you have problems speaking, biting or chewing, your teeth look crowded or protrude awkwardly, or if certain teeth are not properly positioned making it hard to clean. It’s best to see an orthodontist sooner rather than later.
The same goes for children too! Children may have problems with teeth eruption and one of the tell-tale signs might be when your child has lost their baby tooth for some time but the adult teeth has still not grown out. Another reason could be also if your child is embarrassed by the appearance of their teeth. Often, the earlier an issue is treated, the easier it is to treat – although that doesn’t mean it’s ever too late!
It is often recommended to take your child to see an orthodontist for an assessment at the age of 7 or 8, even if there are no obvious problems. And if you have any questions about the alignment of your teeth, it’s always worth paying a visit to an orthodontist to discuss it.
I’m happy with my smile. Should I really bother going to see an orthodontist?
If problems with teeth alignment are subtle and not causing any obvious health problems, why should you bother to make an appointment?
Well, while many people think orthodontics is just about having an attractive smile, it’s also about your oral health!
Crooked and crowded teeth may increase your risk of gum disease and tooth decay as it is more difficult to clean. Problems with tooth eruption may mean that healthy teeth are not in its best position for proper function. Underbites and overbites can result in long term uneven wear and make it difficult for your dentist restoring your teeth should you need any dental work. Furthermore, a bad bite can make it harder to speak, bite and chew.
In the spirit of World Orthodontic Health Day, don’t put off what you can do today – make an appointment with your Orthodontist!