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

June 10, 2021

Dentistry and orthodontics are often (understandably) confused with one another; after all, both professions are primarily concerned with the mouth and teeth. There are, however, a few crucial differences between dentists and orthodontists that are certainly worth knowing. Let’s take a look at a few of these, so you can make an informed decision on who you need to see for your dental concerns!

Qualifications needed to become an orthodontist

The first difference lies in the qualifications needed to enter each profession. Of course, both dentists and orthodontists are exceptionally highly trained, but their precise training path does look a little different. To become a fully qualified dentist, individuals will generally complete an undergraduate medical degree, followed by a postgraduate qualification in dentistry. Although the route to orthodontics is initially similar, extra training is required. Once qualified as a dentist, graduates must complete further postgraduate training in orthodontics followed by a residency period.

So what exactly is orthodontics, and how does it differ from dentistry in practice?

From 30,000 feet, orthodontists specialize in tooth and jaw alignment, dealing with a range of common issues including overbite, underbite, crossbite and overcrowded or crooked teeth. If you or your dentist suspect any issues with jaw alignment, seeking specialized orthodontic treatment promptly is crucial to avoid further issues down the line including tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, headaches, jaw pain or low self-esteem. Dentists deal with more general dental issues such as cavities, extractions, general check-ups and teeth whitening (to name just a few). Although orthodontists are equally qualified to deal with these issues, they have received extra training to tackle more complex problems with the teeth and jaw alignment. Oftentimes, a patient will be referred to an orthodontist by a dentist, however patients can also connect with an orthodontist directly.

What services do orthodontists offer?

Due to their specialist training and qualifications, orthodontists can offer a range of targeted treatments that dentists cannot. For example here at Kuhni Orthodontic Studio, we offer:
  1. Damon Braces - A more comfortable and easier to care for alternative to traditional braces.
  2. Invisalign - An inconspicuous set of clear, plastic aligners for cosmetic changes to your tooth alignment.
  3. Surgical Orthodontics - Realigning the jaw to an optimal position prior to orthodontic treatment.
  4. Interceptive Treatment - Correcting irregularities in bite at an early age, reducing the need for future orthodontic treatment.
  5. Growth Monitoring - Keeping an eye on your child’s teeth as they develop, catching any potential issues early on and providing intervention where necessary.
  6. Aesthetic Laser Treatment - Removing excess gum tissue due to impacted teeth or for cosmetic purposes.

When should I go to an orthodontist?

If you think you’re in need of an orthodontist, there are a few options available. You can always use your dentist as a first port of call to decide on whether an orthodontist is the right route for you or your child. Alternatively, you can get in touch with us directly for advice or to book an initial consultation, so we can decide on the right treatment plan for you going forward. To schedule a free orthodontic consultation with Dr. Kuhni, click here.