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


While your dentist will perform cleanings, checkups and treat more common issues like cavities, an orthodontist specializes in orthodontics, which is the practice of straightening and aligning a patient’s teeth and bite.

Both dentists and orthodontists focus on oral care. 

However, there are some major differences between a dentist and an orthodontist. 


Dental Degree vs. Specialized Orthodontic Degree

One of the biggest differences between a dentist and an orthodontist is their education and training.

A dentist must earn a dental degree to practice and an orthodontist must also earn a dental degree. 

However, to practice orthodontics, an orthodontist must also earn a specialized orthodontic degree. 

Therefore, an orthodontist can practice as a dentist, but a general dentist needs to refer a patient to an orthodontist for issues like resolving overbites or crooked teeth. 


General Oral Health vs. Oral Alignment and Bite

A dentist will focus on your general oral health. 

They specialize in treating things like tooth decay or gum disease. So, if you have a cavity and need it fixed and filled, seek out a dentist. Dentists handle the following areas of oral health concerns:

  • Crowns
  • Veneers
  • Tooth Decay
  • Teeth Whitening

On the other hand, an orthodontist focuses on your oral alignment and bite, which can significantly impact your jaw and mouth comfort. 

To resolve these types of issues, an orthodontist will help you to decide on the best treatment. 

For example, crowded teeth or gaps can often lead to braces or invisible braces. An orthodontist will know which is right for you. 

You should seek out an orthodontist for the following oral concerns:

  • Crowded Teeth
  • Overbite
  • Misaligned Teeth
  • Underbite

Quite often, when seeking treatment with a dentist, they will point out some of these issues. If they believe you require further treatment, they will refer you to an orthodontist. 


Understanding the Difference

When it comes to your oral health, it’s important to understand if you need help from a dentist or orthodontist. 

Therefore, it’s good to know that dentists take care of general oral health, while an orthodontist focuses on tooth alignment to increase your oral health and comfort. 

Both help to increase the longevity of your smile. 

Learn more about the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist by contacting Chroma Dental today.