Dentists and orthodontists are both medical professionals who specialize in the care of teeth, gums, and jaws. While dentists provide general dental services, orthodontists specialize in correcting misaligned teeth, bites, and jaws. To become a dentist, a person must complete four years of college education and four years of dental school. Orthodontists receive the same training initially, but they complete additional training after graduating from dental school.
In some states, dentists may provide some orthodontic treatments, such as braces, in addition to their general dental services. Orthodontists specialize in helping patients align their teeth, improve their bite, or place them in appliances and corrective appliances. They have the necessary knowledge and skills to diagnose, prevent and treat various types of facial and dental irregularities. The Ontario Association of Orthodontists is the official voice of Ontario orthodontists before organized dental associations, recognized educational institutions, professional licensing bodies, the public and the government.
It's important to understand the differences between a dentist and an orthodontist when seeking treatment for dental irregularities. Dentists are concerned with overall oral health while orthodontists specialize in correcting misaligned teeth and inadequate bite patterns. Qualified dentists include the letters DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine) after their names. If your dentist detects a problem for which you are not qualified to treat, he or she will refer you to a dental specialist or doctor as appropriate.
Both are professionals who are dedicated to improving your dental health, but it's important to consider some key differences between them when seeking treatment.