Dentists and orthodontists are both highly qualified professionals who specialize in oral health care. Dentists are trained to diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases of the teeth, gums, nerves, and jaw. Orthodontists are dentists who have received additional education to specialize in correcting bites, occlusion, and the straightness of the teeth. While all orthodontists are dentists, not all dentists are orthodontists.
To become an orthodontist, a dentist must complete at least two additional years of courses specific to the field of orthodontics. An orthodontist evaluates your bite to determine the best solution for your needs, such as braces. General dentists can refer patients to their preferred orthodontist if it is determined that additional oral care is needed beyond the scope of general dentistry. The American Orthodontic Association recommends that children visit an orthodontist for a checkup no later than age 7.This allows the orthodontist to detect potential problems as soon as possible and to help guide the child's growth and development.
Traditional braces, transparent aligners, Invisalign, and other corrective treatments are methods that an orthodontist can use to treat these problems. Both a dentist and an orthodontist must earn a bachelor's degree and then apply and be accepted to a dental school. Dentists may be trained to provide orthodontic care in addition to extractions, temporomandibular joint treatments and fillings, but entrusting your smile to an orthodontist can better balance the different procedures you need. To learn more about the difference between dentists and orthodontists, or to schedule an initial consultation with doctors, dentists and orthodontists often work closely together to develop an effective treatment plan that takes into account your overall oral health.