If your teeth are very crooked, are chipped or broken, or otherwise don't look their best, you shouldn't hesitate to seek out dental services. There are many procedures available today that can easily improve the appearance of teeth, and which are also more affordable than ever before. Broken, chipped, and crooked teeth can also be dangerous for your overall oral hygiene, as they can cause enamel erosion or scrapes and cuts to the cheeks and gums. Note a few common questions you might have about orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry so you can know what the proper professional for your dental needs:

What is the difference between a cosmetic dentist and an orthodontist?

A cosmetic dentist specializes in the appearance of your teeth alone. For very crooked teeth, they may put caps over a tooth or teeth, to hide the teeth underneath and make them seem aligned and straight. They may apply veneers, which are thin, artificial coatings that get glued to the front of the teeth. A cosmetic dentist may also cosmetically bond teeth, which involves putting a thin putty over the tooth and shaping it to look like a new tooth, so the teeth appear to be aligned and properly sized.

An orthodontist specialises in the structure of the jaw and the teeth themselves. They may use braces to help better align teeth, rather than just covering crooked teeth, or they may fit your mouth for a dental tray, which nudges teeth into place. While these procedures can make teeth look better, they are not done for cosmetic purposes alone, but to address potential problems with the jaw line and alignment of the teeth.

Why not see a cosmetic dentist for tooth straightening?

If you have minor issues with crooked teeth, you can certainly have them covered with veneers or caps. However, this quick and cosmetic fix doesn't actually align teeth, so that the upper and lower jaws may not get the support they need from each other. A poorly aligned jaw may also be more prone to pain and stiffness, or even eventual bone loss if those bones are not being properly stimulated and supported. Teeth that rub up against each other can also cause enamel erosion and wear, and a veneer or bonding on the front of the teeth may not stop this. If your crooked teeth are a concern for your health and not just your appearance, it's best to visit an orthodontist to have this issue addressed properly.