A Comprehensive Guide: Choosing Between Dental Services and Orthodontic Treatments

A Comprehensive Guide: Choosing Between Dental Services and Orthodontic Treatments

Embarking on a journey to improve your oral health can often feel like navigating through a maze of choices. With numerous treatments and services available, it’s essential to understand the distinct roles and specialties within the dental field. This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on the confusion on dental vs. orthodontic care, providing you with a clear path to making informed decisions for your oral health.

Dental services encompass a broad spectrum of treatments focused on maintaining and improving the health of your teeth, gums, and overall mouth. From the regular check-ups that keep your oral health in check to intricate procedures addressing specific dental issues, a general dentist is your primary go-to for ensuring your smile stays healthy and bright.

But what happens when your dental needs extend beyond the scope of general dentistry? This is where orthodontics comes into play. Orthodontics is a specialised branch of dentistry that addresses specific concerns related to the alignment of teeth and jaws. It’s not just about aesthetic appeal; it’s about enhancing the functionality and health of your bite and smile.

In this guide, we delve into the nuances that set dental and orthodontic treatments apart. We explore their unique roles in maintaining oral health, the specific conditions they address, and how they can complement each other in certain situations. Whether you’re contemplating the need for braces, considering a routine dental check-up, or simply seeking to broaden your understanding of oral health care, this guide will help you make informed decisions about your oral health needs.

You are not healthy without good oral health.” – David Satcher, an American Physician, and Public Health Administrator

Understanding the Basics: Dental Services

Dental services primarily focus on the health of your teeth, gums, and mouth. A general dentist, according to a blog by Orthodontics Australia, is your primary dental care provider who diagnoses, treats, and manages your overall oral health. The services provided by a dentist include:

Regular Cleanings and Examinations

These are fundamental for maintaining good oral health. Regular check-ups can detect problems early, preventing them from escalating.

Fillings, Crowns, and Bridges

These procedures are essential for restoring damaged or decayed teeth.

Periodontal Care

This involves treatment for gum disease, which is vital for maintaining the health of the tissues surrounding your teeth.

Root Canals

This treatment is used to save a tooth that is badly decayed or infected.


Sometimes, a tooth may need to be removed due to decay, disease, or crowding.

Delving into Orthodontics

Orthodontics, a specialty field within dentistry, focuses on correcting irregularities of the teeth and jaw, particularly in alignment and occlusion. An orthodontist requires additional years of specialised training beyond dental school.  The blog, What Does an Orthodontist Do?, mentioned that there are only three to four orthodontists trained each year at 5 accredited universities in Australia, and these training programs only accept the best dentists. The key services that orthodontists offer include:


The most common orthodontic treatment, braces are used to correct misaligned teeth and jaws.


As an alternative to traditional braces, clear aligners are increasingly popular for their aesthetic appeal.


After braces, retainers are often necessary to maintain the position of straightened teeth.

Jaw Correction

Orthodontists also deal with the correction of jaw irregularities, which can impact both oral function and appearance.

Dental vs Orthodontics: Key Differences

While both dentists and orthodontists help improve oral health, they do so in different ways:

Focus of Treatment

Dental services cover a broad range of oral health issues, including tooth decay, gum disease, and oral hygiene. Orthodontics, on the other hand, specifically focuses on aligning teeth and jaws.

Educational Background

All orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists. Orthodontists undergo additional training to specialise in their field.

Treatment Types

Dentists offer a wide range of treatments for various dental issues, whereas orthodontists specialise in treatments that correct teeth and jaw alignment.

Choosing Between Dental and Orthodontic Services

The decision to seek dental or orthodontic treatment depends on your specific oral health needs:

For General Oral Health

If your concern is general oral health, including tooth decay, gum disease, or routine cleanings, a general dentist is your go-to professional.

For Alignment and Bite Issues

If your primary concern is misaligned teeth, bite irregularities, or jaw misalignment, an orthodontist is best suited to treat these issues.

The Interplay Between Dental and Orthodontic Services

It’s important to note that dental and orthodontic services often complement each other. For example, before beginning orthodontic treatment, a patient might need dental care to address cavities or gum disease. Similarly, orthodontic treatment can sometimes lead to a need for dental services, such as when braces contribute to plaque buildup.

When to Consult Each Professional

The decision to seek dental or orthodontic treatment depends on your specific oral health needs:

Regular Dental Check-ups

You should visit your dentist regularly for check-ups, usually twice a year.

Orthodontic Evaluation

It’s recommended to have an orthodontic evaluation by age 7, as early detection of alignment issues can lead to more effective treatment.

“I am trying to inspire people to just take control of their oral health, because if we don’t take care of our oral health, it affects so many different aspects of our lives. If your smile and mouth is not together, it affects your relationship, your self-esteem, your health.” – Sherri Shepherd, an American Actress, Comedian, Author, Broadcaster, Podcaster, and Television Host

In the realm of oral health, both dental and orthodontic services play crucial roles. While dentists focus on a wide range of oral health issues, orthodontists specialise in the alignment of teeth and jaws. Understanding dental vs. orthodontics can help you seek the appropriate care for your specific needs. Remember, maintaining good oral health is a combination of regular dental check-ups and, when necessary, specialised orthodontic care.


What is the main difference between dental and orthodontic treatments?
Dental treatments focus on overall oral health, including teeth, gums, and mouth care, while orthodontic treatments specialise in aligning teeth and jaws. Dentists manage general oral health, whereas orthodontists correct bite and alignment issues.

Do I need to see an orthodontist for braces, or can a dentist provide them?
Braces are typically provided by orthodontists, who have specialised training in correcting teeth and jaw alignment. Some general dentists may offer basic orthodontic services, but for complex cases, an orthodontist is recommended.

How often should I visit a dentist for regular check-ups?
It is generally advised to visit a dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings every six months. However, your dentist may recommend a different frequency based on your specific oral health needs.

At what age should a child first visit an orthodontist?
The American and Australian Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first orthodontic evaluation by age 7. Early detection of alignment issues can lead to more effective treatments.

Can orthodontic treatment improve oral health, or is it just for aesthetics?
Orthodontic treatment improves both oral health and aesthetics. Correctly aligned teeth are easier to clean, reducing the risk of decay and gum disease, and can also correct bite issues that might cause jaw pain or difficulty chewing.

Are dental and orthodontic treatments expensive?
The cost of dental and orthodontic treatments varies depending on the complexity and type of treatment. Many dental insurance plans cover some costs of both types of care. It’s best to consult with your provider for specific pricing.

Can adults benefit from orthodontic treatments?
Yes, adults can benefit from orthodontic treatments. Advances in orthodontics, like clear aligners, have made it more appealing for adults to seek treatment for alignment issues.

Is it necessary to see a dentist before starting orthodontic treatment?

Yes, it is advisable to have a dental check-up before starting orthodontic treatment. A dentist will ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy enough for orthodontic work. They can also address any issues that might affect the treatment, like cavities or gum disease.

Our team of experts at Ellenbrook Orthodontics is here to guide you towards the path to a healthier, more confident smile. Plan your orthodontic visit today and discover the right treatment for you!

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