Are There Differences Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist?

Orthodontist Dana Point, CA

If you’ve been told you need to see an orthodontist, you might be wondering why your dentist can’t just take care of it. You have your teeth filled, your gingivitis treated and your plaque removed at your dentist’s office, so why can’t you have your orthodontic work done there as well. Some dentists do provide orthodontic care, but that doesn’t necessarily make them orthodontists. There are some major differences that you should understand so you always receive the best in oral health care.

Education and Training

Anyone who wants to work in oral health has to complete some type of training. Dental assistants, hygienists, dentists and specialists all complete formal education to some degree. A dentist with no specialty completes dental school and is then licensed to practice dentistry. While they may perform some specialty services, they do not carry the title of the specialist. For example, a dentist could extract a tooth without having the specialty training required of an oral surgeon.

Orthodontists have to complete additional training beyond dental school. When their graduate program is finished, they have to pass a rigorous exam administered by the American Board of Orthodontics. Passing this test gives them the licensure to claim the title of orthodontist.


Dentists provide the typical services you’d expect to find when having your teeth checked. They clean and fill cavities, they extract failed teeth, they improve the condition of gum disease and they remove plaque. Additionally, they can secure veneers, crowns, bridges and provide other similar services. Services offered by a dentist are concerned with the overall health of your mouth, gums and teeth. They offer preventative education to keep your mouth in the best health possible.

As was mentioned before, a dentist can provide features offered by specialists. You may have a dentist who offers orthodontic services, but that doesn’t make him or her an actual orthodontist. Orthodontists are concerned with the alignment of your mouth and jaw, and won’t generally deal much with other aspects of oral health. They take a look at overbites, underbites, crossbites, jaw position, crooked teeth and other issues directly related to positioning of the jaw and teeth.

Who Should You Contact?

If you have a concern with your teeth or mouth, and are unsure of where to start, you may just want to ask your dentist at your next regularly scheduled exam. A dentist can recommend an orthodontist if they determine your issue is related to alignment. If you already know you’re dealing with teeth positioning, contact your orthodontist in Dana Point, CA from John Redmond Orthodontics today and get in for a consultation.