What is the Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist?

Posted on May 22, 2024


Dentists and orthodontists may seem similar at first glance, but they serve distinct roles in oral health care. When it comes to orthodontic needs like braces, it’s essential to understand the difference between these professionals. According to the California Association of Orthodontists, only 6% of American dentists are also orthodontists, which shows the specialized nature of orthodontic practice. In this blog, we discuss some of the key differences between dentists and orthodontists to help you decide which is right for your situation!

Role of a Dentist

Dentists are primary oral health care providers who hold degrees in dentistry and practice across various specialties. Approximately 80% of dentists are general practitioners, according to Healthline. Their focus is on comprehensive oral care, starting with diagnosis, and they use tools such as X-rays. They address issues such as cavity fillings, tooth repairs, and extractions, all aimed at maintaining overall dental health.

Role of an Orthodontist

Orthodontists specialize in tooth and jaw alignment, with braces being their most recognizable treatment. Beyond braces, they address issues related to the alignment of teeth and jaws, and some can assist with gum and mouth concerns. Orthodontists may also perform surgical procedures like teeth straightening or use devices such as palatal expanders and orthodontic headgear to correct alignment problems.

Choosing Between a Dentist and Orthodontist

For routine oral health needs like cavity treatments or minor repairs, visiting a general dentist is appropriate and cost-effective. However, if you have specific concerns like crooked teeth, jaw misalignment, or impacted teeth causing discomfort, consulting an orthodontist is advisable. They specialize in addressing these issues through a range of treatments, including braces and surgical interventions.

When Braces are Needed

If you require braces or have questions about orthodontic care, your dentist can offer recommendations and referrals to orthodontists. Alternatively, you can contact our office directly to schedule an appointment with our knowledgeable staff. We are committed to ensuring your teeth remain healthy and strong through appropriate dental care and specialized treatments.

To learn more about our team at Lineberger Orthodontics, reach out to us today! We look forward to helping you get your perfect smile!