What’s the Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist?


What’s the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?

Orthodontists and dentists share many similarities. Both strive to achieve beautiful healthy smiles. Dentists cover a broad range of oral health issues including cavities, gum disease, broken and missing teeth. Orthodontists are dentists that continued their training for an additional three years in an accredited university focused only on tooth and jaw alignment.  Orthodontists only do orthodontics and that makes them most qualified to provide the most comprehensive and effecient treatment options when it comes to straightening your teeth.  Dentists working with orthodontists results in the best overall dental health.

In order for patients to make informed decisions regarding treatment, it’s important to be aware of a few key differences between orthodontists and dentists:


  • Dentists complete a General Dental Degree.
  • A general dentist is similar to your family doctor and is very important for overall dental health. They provide a wide range of services from dental cleanings to repairing teeth
  • Dentists are not trained at university in putting on braces or working with clear aligners.
  •  Most dentists will refer patients requiring orthodontic treatment to a certified orthodontic specialist.  


  • Orthodontists complete a dental degree then a three year specialist degree
  • Orthodontists are specialists in facial growth and dental development. Proper early intervention can reduce the need for orthodontic treatment and improve results
  • Orthodontists are specialists in tooth and jaw alignment. 
  • Orthodontists offer many types of treatment including retainers, clear aligners and traditional braces and will help pick the right one for you.  Dentists often only offer one brand or type of aligner or braces.

Both dentists and orthodontists play a valuable role in keeping your teeth healthy and looking good,  However, patients need to be aware that a general dentist offering orthodontic treatment does not have the additional university training, knowledge and experience in orthodontics that a certified orthodontist does. Just like your family doctor works with a medical specialist; dentists working with specialists leads to the most ideal outcomes.