The Differences Between A Dentist, a Periodontist, and an Orthodontist

Everyone sees a dentist a couple times a year.  Generally it is recommended that you schedule an appointment about once every six months for a professional cleaning and a surgical assessment.  If you have properly maintained your teeth (ie, brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, drinking lots of water, and eating mostly healthy), this visit should be pretty inconsequential.  

Occasionally, though, your Oracare dentist could recommend other services. And these other services could require that you see a different specialist to address very specific issues to improve your dental health (which could, actually, improve your overall health, too).  


You have more than likely been seeing a dentist for most of your life.  As a child, your parents should have taken you to a dentist about twice a year. That is, of course, unless you need an extra procedure (like a filling), which would warrant an additional appointment.  A typical dental visit includes a professional cleaning from a hygienist as well as an x-ray of your jaw (and teeth) and then an analysis and conversation with a dental surgeon to discuss your dental health and what you can do to improve.  


Sometimes this initial conversation—or consultation—with your dentist will lead in a different direction. If you need a filling or another basic procedure, they might schedule you to come back in a week or so.  If your dentist, however, feels that you may have a problem related to dental implants or oral inflammation, they might recommend that you see a periodontist. A periodontist specializes in:

  • Analyzing, diagnosing, and treating periodontal diseases
  • Performing cosmetic periodontal procedures
  • Performing specialized periodontal procedures (which includes, but is not limited to, tooth scaling, root planting, root surface debridement, etc)
  • Treating patients who suffer from gum-related problems


Your dentist could also recommend that you need to see an orthodontist if you have certain issues related to your jaw.  Even your primary care physician could recommend this, if they feel the issue could affect your overall health. The most common reason a dentist will recommend that you need to see an orthodontist is because you need braces, but that is not the furthest extent of what an orthodontist does.  Their services might also include:

  • Teeth straightening (braces, etc)
  • Adjusting your over/under bite
  • Fixing jaw alignment issues