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  • Writer's pictureDr. Llewelyn A. Paras

Are Orthodontists and Dentists the Same?

Orthodontists and dentists are medical professionals that help keep your mouth in tip-top shape. And although some of their education is the same, they have different overall roles in your mouth and teeth health.

Your family or general dentist is similar to your family physician—they are typically the ones you see regularly to maintain good oral health. They may refer you to an orthodontist for more specialized needs.

How Are Orthodontists & Dentists Similar?

The primary similarity between orthodontists and dentists is their initial training. Both dentists and orthodontists undergo 4 to 5 years of training to receive their dental degree (BDS/DDS/DMD) and are qualified to provide the full range of general dentistry.

Their education is also one of the primary differences. An orthodontist completes an additional 3 to 4 years in an accredited university. This extra schooling focuses on orthodontics, which we’ll discuss below.

What Is an Orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in orthodontics. There may be cases where an orthodontist performs more dental services. But generally, an orthodontist builds their practice on their orthodontic specialization.

What Is Their Primary Area of Treatment?

Orthodontics is a dental specialty that focuses on improving mouth health and appearance by correcting bad bites (malocclusion) and straightening teeth. One might think that a bad bite or crooked teeth are simply a case of aesthetics, but this is not the case.

Severe misaligned jaws and teeth can cause speech, chewing, and breathing trouble. But they can also increase the risk of gum disease, tooth decay, or cavities because they’re more difficult to clean.

Some treatments that an orthodontist can provide include:

  • Braces

  • Headgear

  • Retainers

  • Surgical orthodontics

  • Invisalign

  • Expanders

When to See an Orthodontist

You typically won’t see an orthodontist all the time because of the specialized nature of their services. But it’s a good idea for a child to have an appointment with the orthodontist when they’re around 7.

This enables the orthodontist to evaluate the child’s mixture of permanent and “baby” teeth to see if any obvious orthodontic problems are developing. Early detection may allow the doctor to recommend the best treatment in each situation. It’s important to remember that there isn’t a set-in-stone age, and if you notice problems with your child’s bite earlier, they should see the orthodontist.

You may think that orthodontic work is only for children or youth, but adults can be candidates for orthodontic correction as well. If your dentist notices problems with your bite or teeth during an exam, they may recommend you see an orthodontist.


A male dentist in blue scrubs and a woman sitting in a dentist's chair looking at a tablet and smiling

What Is a Dentist?

A dentist is a medical professional who has completed a dental degree. You should visit your dentist regularly to maintain good oral health like you go to your family doctor for general health-related concerns.

The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) recommends that you visit your dentist 2 times a year. But remember that your dentist considers your overall oral health and may recommend a more frequent schedule.

What Is Their Primary Area of Treatment?

Some dentists may choose to focus their specialty in certain areas, but most dentists provide a variety of treatments, including:

When to See a Dentist

Visiting the dentist every 6 months is a good general rule, but it’s not a firm one. There are circumstances where more frequent visits could be advised by your dentist. You should see your dentist more often if you:

  • Smoke

  • Have diabetes

  • Have gum disease

  • Have a compromised immune system

  • Are pregnant

  • Are prone to cavities & tooth decay

Discuss Your Dental Needs With Us

Visiting your dentist is an integral part of maintaining good oral health. Brushing twice daily and flossing every day is essential for your oral hygiene, and adding mouthwash isn’t a bad idea either, but it can’t replace good brushing and flossing.

Ultimately, you should consult your dentist for how often they recommend you return because they know your unique situation and mouth needs.

If it’s time for your semi-annual dental exam and cleaning, or you’re having problems with your mouth or teeth, contact us at Dental Haus. Our professional team can answer your questions and schedule a convenient appointment.

NEW! Needle-Free & Drill-Free Dental Procedures. Book your appointment today!

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