Dentist vs. Orthodontist


Dentist vs. Orthodontist: Do you need to see both after braces?

It’s here! After one-, two- or even THREE years your braces are finally coming off! There are few days more exciting in the life of a braces-wearer than this one; birthdays, holidays and even summer vacation pale in comparison. Don’t get us wrong, braces are wonderful tools to straighten teeth, align jaws and fix bites, but they also come with soreness from regular adjustments, brackets that dig into the mouth’s soft tissue and having to give up on eating corn-on-the-cob entirely. In the time you’ve worn your braces, you’ve probably developed a close relationship with your orthodontist, so do you need to continue to see him or her or will your regular dentist do? The answer to that question lies in the differences between a dentist and an orthodontist.

What’s The Difference Between A Dentist And Orthodontist?

A dentist is a general physician that uses the latest advances in dental technology to promote, fix and restore your dental health; DDS means Doctor of Dental Surgery. Dentists focus on your entire mouth: the jaw, nerves, gums and teeth. Dentists, like Dr. Vacek, are experts at preventative care and focus on preventing tooth decay and gum disease. They also provide cosmetic work, like veneers and whitening, along with implants, crowns and bridges. 

An orthodontist is an individual category within dentistry. Orthodontists work on correcting bite issues, straightening the teeth and occlusion. All orthodontists are licensed dentists, but not all dentists are licensed orthodontists.

Sometimes Services Overlap

Advances in orthodontics have made traditional metal braces just one of many options available today. For example, we offer Invisalign clear aligners at our Lincoln, Neb. Dental office. Invisalign has become a very popular option for patients who don’t want a mouth full of metal. What’s more is Dr. Vacek can use his CEREC imaging equipment to create digital models for these orthodontic cases. Gone are the days of uncomfortable mouth impressions; instead the doctor performs a 3D scan to produce a predicted finished product complete with a timeline of how long the patient will need to wear the aligners and how many will be needed for the desired outcome. Dr. Vacek even trains other dentists on how to do it this way as well. Sometimes a dentist that provides ortho products will still refer a patient to an orthodontist due to the difficulty of a case. 

Dentists Keep Your Teeth And Mouth Healthy

That being said, once the braces come off, you’ll most likely see your orthodontist for a couple extra appointments to get fitted for a retainer and to make sure your teeth don’t move right away. After that, your dentist will be the one to continue to care for your teeth, just like he or she has since you were one.

In fact, it’s a great idea to schedule an appointment right after your braces come off so your dentist can check for cavities and give your teeth a good cleaning. Now that your teeth are perfectly straight and clean, your dentist might also suggest a professional teeth whitening treatment a month or two after removal to make your new smile absolutely sparkle! 

For most braces wearers, your journey begins with your dentist and ends with your dentist. During your twice-a-year exams, your dentist will let you know if he or she is starting to see problems with your bite or if your teeth move. You can always be referred back to your orthodontist.

Dr. Vacek truly cares about your smile and his preventative care will keep it clean, healthy and straight. Contact us today to see how we can keep your smile beautiful.

Dr. Craig Vacek