orthodontist dentist chair

Difference Between an Orthodontist and Dentist

Both orthodontists and dentists are tasked with providing oral care and work in the same dental clinics or offices. Although their regular care provision is quite similar in this aspect, these two have various differences. In plain analogy, dentistry covers a broader medical spectrum as the specialty deals with teeth, gum, jaw and oral nerves. Orthodontics on the other hand is a specialty under dentistry and focuses on occlusion, bite correction and teeth straightening. Before we look at the difference between orthodontist and dentist, it is important to note what
each specialty covers.

What orthodontists and dentists offer?

All orthodontists are considered dentists as they deal with oral health, but not all doctors can unequivocally pass as licensed orthodontists. Just like a doctor needs extra training in addition to being a licensed surgeon, dentists require special training to become orthodontists. Orthodontists specialize in teeth alignment and will deals with the following services:

  • Correcting misaligned teeth
  • Correcting crowded teeth
  • Correcting overbite and under-bite
  • Teeth preparation for correct fitting of braces

Dentists on the other hand deal with the following oral health services:

  • Correcting tooth decay
  • Performing root canals
  • Treating gum disease
  • Teeth whitening
  • Crowns, bridges, dentures and veneers

Orthodontists are the kind of professionals you approach for crooked teeth. They also provide teeth straightening services and TMD (temporomandibular disorders) treatment. Generally, they handle requirements that deal directly with the smile and appearance rather than infections, diseases and extractions.

Dentist and orthodontist treatments

performing dental treatment

In addition to identifying the difference between orthodontist and dentist, it is worth noting the types of treatments each specialty provides. As aforementioned, dentists deal with routine checkups, cleaning, extractions, X-ray diagnosis, disease treatment and overall oral health management.

The popular treatments you will get from a dentist include gum care, root canals, fillers, bridges, denture modeling, teeth cleaning and whitening. Conversely, orthodontists offer smile improvement treatments that include wires, braces, retainers, invisaligns and corrective appliances.

Difference in education background

Dentists and orthodontists generally deal with oral care and actually undergo the same training, at least for the first part. They both need to attain a Bachelor’s Degree and attend a 4 year Doctoral Program for either DMD (Doctor-of-Dental-Medicine) of DDS (Doctor-of-Dental-Surgery).

Following graduation, these professionals can begin practicing. However, they will only do so as dentists. To become an orthodontist, one will need additional 2-3 years of residency learning orthodontics in approved dental universities. Orthodontists are therefore more skilled and trained than regular dentists.


Dentists and orthodontists can help you attain perfect oral health and correct various conditions. On a regular day, both professionals work in the same facilities and offices. However, one specializes in helping people get the perfect smile while another is tasked with regular checkup, diagnosis and treatment to ensure ideal dental health. This is the main difference between orthodontist and dentist.

One thought on “Difference Between an Orthodontist and Dentist”

  1. So in a nutshell, if you’re looking for dental braces, you need an orthodontist to address your concern.

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