Dr. James Heaton
Convenient Saturday Appointments Available
Serving the Areas of Chandler and Tempe, AZ

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Orthodontist Vs. Dentist: What’s The Difference?

May 22, 2020

It is often recommended that you need to visit a dentist twice a year to clean your teeth or for a regular checkup. But when would you see an orthodontist? What’s the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist? It's important that you know what dental service they offer so that when you have an issue with your teeth, jaws, gums or any part of your mouth, you can schedule your appointment with the right dental professional in Chandler AZ to treat your dental needs.

Orthodontist Vs. Dentist

The Training

To be a dentist in the USA, a person must be an undergraduate and complete four years of dental school. Post to their studies, dentists must take up written exams that include clinical licensing exam before they can practice. A qualified dentist can include titles DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) after their names.

When you compare training of a regular dentist and an orthodontist, they undertake the same training initially, but an orthodontist takes additional training after dental school graduation. One can opt to practice as a general dentist after their training, or pursue a specialty that requires additional training. Specialties such as orthodontics have a more specific focus.

What Do They Do?

A dentist diagnoses patients’ overall dental health through regular dental checkups, spots any potential dental issues, improves teeth function and appearance, extract teeth that are beyond saving, and provides advice on how to take care of your oral health. During your regular checkup, they refer you to a specialist in case the dentist spots dental issues that they are not qualified to diagnose.

An orthodontist specializes in aligning your teeth and jaws to correct position that can improve your appearance. It includes correcting gaps between teeth, bite issues, crowded teeth, misaligned jaws, and teeth. Alignment problems are unique to one's need, as a result, to provide individualized treatment, X-rays and photographs are taken to create a treatment plan. They offer traditional braces, clear aligners, lingual braces, and other orthodontic appliances to put the best smile on your face.

When to See?

If you see the services both professionals offer there might overlap in the services. In some states, a general dentist can provide some orthodontic treatments such as dental braces in addition to their regular dental services. But on the other hand, orthodontists are confined to their dental specialty.

If you have tooth pain or if there is something that is bothering you, see a general dentist, if they are qualified to treat they will diagnose, else they will refer you to other specialists who can take care of the problem more efficiently.

You will see an orthodontist for only orthodontic needs such as teeth and jaw alignment, bite issues, and others. However, you will visit a general dentist for a lifetime. They will examine your mouth and refer you to a specialist when necessary.


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Our Reviews

Dr Heaton is as kind as he is competent. He treats me like a person, not a paycheck and I feel like I can trust him to only recommend what I need. I also referred an employee of mine who needed serious dental care and did not have a lot of money. Dr Heaton was flexible and kind and so helpful. Highly Recommend.

Jason J.

Most people dread going to the dentist but I'm always excited to go especially when it means seeing all of the wonderful people who work there. My family has been going here for more than 20 years and I've never had a bad experience. You can count on walking out the door with a huge (minty fresh) smile on your face. Highly recommended!

Gina D.
Smiles of Chandler, 4940 W Ray Rd #8, Chandler, AZ 85226, USA
  • Smiles of Chandler,
    4940 W Ray Rd #8,
    Chandler, AZ - 85226, USA
  • (480) 899-9484
  • Mon & Tue : 8am – 5pm Wednesday : 7am – 6pm Thursday : 7am – 5pm Friday : 7am – 2pm Saturday : 7am – 1pm Sunday : Closed
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