General dentists and orthodontists both provide patients with oral care. Dentists work on a wide variety of oral health issues, including hygiene, tooth and gum care and various decay and structural problems. Orthodontists, meanwhile, are specialists who focus on the alignment of teeth and jaws, using non-surgical solutions to correct improper positioning. Both largely work in dental offices, often serving in the same practice.
General Dentists’ Role
General dentists provide both basic and complex care to patients. While patients only need the services of orthodontists when they have problems, general dentists both help to resolve problems and oversee preventive and customary care. General dentists provide routine periodic teeth cleaning, checkups, X-ray reviews and instruction on how to care for teeth. They also remove problem teeth, fill cavities, repair cracked and broken teeth and make models for dentures. General dentists must be skilled with a variety of tools, including small pieces of machinery and computer technology, and they typically work with a staff that includes dental assistants and dental hygienists, who help with tasks such as cleanings. General dentists typically refer patients with alignment issues to orthodontists.
Orthodontists are one of nine dental specialties. Orthodontists’ treatment to correct alignment issues can offer both cosmetic and health benefits for patients. Proper tooth alignment can improve a patient’s physical appearance. It also can reduce the risk of tooth decay, periodontal disease and stress on the chewing muscles. Orthodontists use tools such as braces, retainers, and headgear to move teeth into better positions and to retrain muscles. Specific problems that orthodontists treat include underbites, overbites, large spaces between the teeth and crowding, which occurs when teeth are grouped too closely together.
Education and Training
Both dentists and orthodontists first acquire bachelor’s degrees at a four-year college and then apply for dental school, taking the Dental Acceptance Test as part of the application process in most programs. Dental schools are four-year doctoral programs. Following graduation from dental school, prospective general dentists typically can begin to practice in their field. However, orthodontists must then serve a residency in orthodontics of two years or longer. Following the residency, orthodontists can open a practice.
Dentists and orthodontists are two of the highest-paying professions in the United States. In fact, a Bureau of Labor Statistics compilation showed orthodontists to be the third-highest paying career in the country, and general dentists to be the sixth-highest paying career. Orthodontists earned a mean annual wage of $204,670 in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dentists earned a mean annual wage of $161,750 that year. Dentists’ offices are both the largest employer of dentists and orthodontists and the best-paying employer of both groups. Dentists had an average income of $164,780 when employed in a dentist office, and orthodontists earned an annual income of $207,350 in that setting. You can also check out Ormeau Dentist
Salary Information for Dentists
Dentists earned a median annual salary of $158,390 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, dentists earned a 25th percentile salary of $110,030, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $201,830, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 153,500 people were employed in the U.S. as dentists.