Difference Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist

A lot of folks are confused about what makes an orthodontist different from a regular dentist. Dentists and orthodontists both deal with the teeth, and both are doctors, so what makes them different from each other?

Most of us have been to the dentist many times, so we know exactly what they do. We get our teeth cleaned and our cavities filled among other things at the dentist. So what does an orthodontist do?

Orthodontists and dentists actually address the same dental issues, but differ in the methods of care they provide. Let’s take a closer look at these two health professionals and figure out whom does what and how they are different.


To become a dentist one must complete medical school as well as post graduate dental training. Dentists are basically doctors who specialize in problems with the teeth and gums. They deal mostly with general dental problems like tooth decay, gum disease, tartar and the like, and encourage patients to practice good oral hygiene and get regular cleanings twice each year.


Orthodontists are dentists who went on to complete a two-year residency program in orthodontics. They deal with more serious dental problems like issues with tooth and jaw alignment. Most people who have visited an orthodontist did so because their dentist advised them that they needed braces. Orthodontists assess alignment problems, take scans and measurements, and fit patients with the appropriate type of braces to correct their problems and straighten their smiles. Orthodontists used specialized equipment to assess and measure alignment problems with the jaw and teeth, and may recommend different forms of treatment than just braces, though this is what people think of when they hear the term “orthodontist.”

The orthodontic curriculum involves intensive study of the jaw and how the teeth move. Orthodontists primarily deal with malocclusions, or problems with an individual’s bite.  Some of the primary issues they treat include:

  • Overbite
  • Underbite
  • Crowded Teeth
  • Crossbite
  • Improperly Spaced Teeth

It is appropriate to think of an orthodontist as a dentist who specializes in the alignment of the teeth. There are dentists who specialize in a number of other types of oral care. A periodontist, for example, is a specialist who treats the gums and the bones beneath the teeth. Periodontists treat gingivitis and periodontitis.

Summary of Differences Between Dentists and Orthodontists

  • Both are doctors who specialize in oral care, and both are technically dentists.
  • Orthodontists complete an additional two years of training in orthodontics, the treatment of irregularities in the teeth.
  • All orthodontists are dentists, but only 10 percent of dentists are orthodontists.
  • Dentists refer their patients to an orthodontist if they have problems with the alignment of their teeth or a bite abnormality of some kind.
  • If you do not suffer from a bite irregularity or misaligned teeth, you will likely never have to see an orthodontist.
  • Only orthodontists can fit patients for corrective braces and other dental devices like retainers.


If you are looking for a dentist in kenosha, then Pat Crawford DDS should be your first choice. He is one of the best dentists in Kenosha, WI. If you are looking for an orthodontist, visit John Crawford. They are brothers and share the same building. They’ve got quite the nice setup.

This article was inspired by Viva Ortho.


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