Should You See An Orthodontist Or A Dentist?

Is it time to get your oral health checked out, but you're not sure if you need to see the dentist or orthodontist? There are many differences between the two, from education to the procedures they perform.


Dentists are required to obtain a bachelor's degree before going through dental school for four more years. The first two years of dental school are spent studying in the classroom. The last two years of dental school are typically spent in a clinical setting. After completing dental school, they will then receive a doctorate's degree in dental medicine or dental surgery. At this point, a dentist can decide to choose a subspecialty if that's what they're interested in. Some subspecialties include:

  • Endodontics
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Prosthodontics
  • Orthodontics 

An orthodontist begins their education the same way. The last step to becoming an orthodontist is completing a two- to three-year residency. Recertification is required every 10 years for orthodontists. 

What Do Dentists Do?

Dentists deal mostly with your hygienic oral care. It is recommended that you see a dentist once every six months for a check-up and teeth cleaning, but that's not the only service a dentist provides. A dentist can also provide: 

  • Cavity filling
  • Root canal therapy
  • Teeth whitening
  • Veneers
  • Bonding
  • Crowns
  • Dentures

If you are in need of any of the above procedures, then the dentist is where you want to go. If you do come to the dentist and it turns out you need more help than they can provide, oftentimes they will refer you to a specialist, like an orthodontist, who is more trained to help with your specific problem.

What Do Orthodontists Do?

The main job of an orthodontist is to diagnose and correct misaligned or mispositioned teeth. If you're experiencing the following problems, you may need to seek care from an orthodontist:

  • Crooked teeth
  • Overcrowded teeth
  • Over- or underbite
  • Tooth pain

To some, it may seem that an orthodontist is in charge of helping with superficial issues, but in reality, if some of these issues go untreated, they can cause problems further down the road for your oral health. Some of the issues listed above have the potential to cause frequent headaches, lockjaw, speech impediments, etc. Orthodontists are a vital resource in maintaining healthy oral health. 

While dentists and orthodontists do go hand-in-hand, they deal with different sides of your oral health. Reach out to an orthodontist in your area to learn more.