How Is A Dentist Different From An Orthodontist

As someone who is looking to maintain good oral health you may be asking yourself what the difference is between a dentist and an orthodontist. Although both are trained professionals who take care of oral health, they are different it terms of their specialties. A dentist does general dental work, but an orthodontist specializes in treatments that deal with alignment of the teeth. That means that although all orthodontists are dentists, not all dentists are orthodontists.

Although their training starts out the same after dental school orthodontists go on to have further education. According to, “First, a dentist vs. orthodontist will have similar educational backgrounds. Both must get a bachelor’s degree and then apply for dental school. If accepted into dental school, they must complete a four-year doctoral program. After graduation, a general dentist may begin to practice dentistry. Dentists will earn either a D.D.S. (doctor of dental surgery) or D.M.D. (doctor of dental medicine) degree. Both degrees require the same curriculum, but schools will call them one or the other. At this point, to become an orthodontist, the dentist must then serve a two- or three-year residency in Fresno CA orthodontics at an American Dental Association approved, university-affiliated program. Ideally, an orthodontist will be certified by the American Board of Orthodontics, the only orthodontic specialty board recognized by the American Dental Association.

An orthodontist will typically tag his or her name with D.D.S. or D.M.D., as well as “M.S.”, for Master of Science.”

So what kinds of problems can an orthodontist help you with? If you have crooked teeth, an overbite, an under-bite or even the painful condition called TMJ you should reach out to an orthodontist instead of a dentist. If, however, you want to have your teeth cleaned, have a cavity, need crowns, bridges, whitening or an extraction you should see a dentist. There are some dentists who are also orthodontists and they are best for families that have children whose teeth need straightening. Those who haven’t heard the additional training to practice in both fields usually refer patients who need teeth straightened to an orthodontist. You can also seek the help of a dental practice that employs both dentists and orthodontists so that you can conveniently get both treatments at the same location.

Once your teeth are straightened you will not need to see your orthodontist any more but you will need to see your dentist every 6 months or so. They will give you a teeth cleaning and also check for any developing oral problems so that they can treat them right away. Dentists are also good at helping you take care of your oral health – by removing plaque during teeth cleaning for example, they reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular disease. You should never miss a dental appointment, but if you do make sure that you go in as soon as you are able to. Make sure to practice good oral hygiene in between visits.