Unfortunately, the general public is ill informed about the many differences that exist between an orthodontist and a dentist when it comes to braces. Sadly, the profession and governing bodies are partly to blame for this. By allowing terms such as “ortho-dentist”, and “dentist doing braces” or “dentist doing orthodontics”, we muddy the distinction between these two very different, yet important dental professionals. Kudos to you the reader, for investigating this!

By simple comparison, the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist is similar to the difference between a general physician and a cardiologist. The general physician will be able to diagnose most of your ailments and do a general check-up for you; however, if he finds a problem with your heart, he may say he can treat you, but wouldn’t you prefer to see a cardiologist?

The general dentist is the gatekeeper to your oral health. Six-month recall visits will ensure the health of your teeth, your gums and surrounding soft tissues, and much, much more. You would get cleanings, and fillings done at your dentist’s office as well, along with many other procedures. But when it comes to braces or Invisalign, the orthodontist is much better prepared to serve you.

On average, orthodontists spend an additional 2-3 years in orthodontic school after they finish dental school. Furthermore, “doing braces” is NOT a side business for an orthodontist. A dentist can do fillings, extractions, cleanings, bleaching, dentures, and oh yes, braces too! Orthodontists straighten teeth and correct bites all day, everyday. By seeing a multitude of patients with related problems, they become experts and masters at treating misaligned teeth. They have the know-how to treat any orthodontic problem properly and efficiently and this means that the patient will get the best possible result in the shortest time frame possible. That is the value of a specialist!

One would think that all this expertise comes at a huge price. Surprisingly, fees between dentists and orthodontists are not that different. This again is because of all the efficiencies that orthodontists put in place as a result of treating many patients.

Once you understand the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist, when you have to decide who should treat your teeth or your child’s teeth, the choice will be simple!

Happy Smiles!

Dr. Pourang Rahimi