Dentists and orthodontists are doctors who specialize in oral healthcare. Doctors who study general dentistry are trained to diagnose and treat your gums, teeth, tongue, and mouth conditions. Orthodontists also receive this training, but they get additional education in order to specialize in diagnosing and treating misalignments of your teeth and jaws.

Things that dentists do:

Dentists are doctors of oral health. Typically, dentists go to college for a pre-dentistry or pre-medical degree before going on to a graduate school of dentistry. Like all doctors, dentists are required to be extensively trained in their practice before becoming certified. They make general rules as such.
Certified dentists can diagnose and treat oral health conditions of your teeth, gums, tongue, and mouth. They are also able to clean your teeth, but dental hygienists usually take care of that. 

Some of the services that dentists provide are:

  • treat gum disease, such as gingivitis
  • prescribe treatment, including prescription drugs, for oral health conditions
  • whiten teeth
  • install crowns or veneers
  • oversee the development of children’s teeth
  • perform oral surgery
  • conduct and interpret dental X-rays
  • fill cavities
  • extract teeth
  • repair cracked teeth
  • promote oral health and oral hygiene
  • fill and bond teeth

Things that orthodontist does:

Orthodontists are also doctors of oral health. Technically, they’re a kind of dentist with a specialty in tooth and jaw alignment. Certified orthodontists are trained to diagnose and treat your teeth, gums, and mouth's oral health conditions. But mostly, orthodontists focus on making sure your teeth and jaw are set correctly.

Some of the things that they do are:

  • create a treatment plan that includes braces and retainers
  • perform teeth straightening surgery
  • install dental appliances, such as braces, palatal expanders, orthodontic headgear, or Herbst appliances
  • supervise facial growth (jawline and bite) in children
  • diagnose and treat misaligned teeth and jaws

The difference between orthodontist and dentist:

Dentists and orthodontists get a lot of the same education. Orthodontists are required to receive additional educational certification before going into practice. Typically, dentists go to college for a pre-dentistry or pre-medical degree before going on to a graduate school of dentistry.
Like all doctors, dentists are required to be extensively trained in their practice, completing a residency before being able to get certified. Certification requires passing a comprehensive exam.    During the last two years, dentists work with patients under the supervision of a licensed dental school.
After completing dental school, dentists must take and pass the National Dental Examination to become licensed professionals. Orthodontists also typically pursue a pre-dentistry or pre-medical major in their undergraduate degree before entering dentistry school. After completing dental school and taking the certification test, orthodontists attend an orthodontic residency program for an additional 2 to 3 years to get a specialty certification in orthodontics.

Do you need to see an orthodontist or dentist?

You can think of your dentist as a general practitioner and your orthodontist as a specialist. A trip to the dentist can resolve most standard dental issues. Your dentist can treat Tooth pain, tooth decay, tooth repair, and tooth extraction, and you can get it all diagnosed. There may be cases when a dentist refers you to an orthodontist. Jaw malocclusion, tooth crowding, and palate expansion may all require the input of an orthodontist.
Experts recommend that an orthodontist assess all children before age seven to see if braces will be needed. If you are an adult and suspect you have a crooked jawline or teeth that need to be aligned, you might consider skipping the dentist and going straight to the orthodontist. Not all orthodontic care will be covered by insurance, even if you have dental coverage. An orthodontist is technically considered a specialist.
Orthodontists and dentists both help patients improve their oral health, but in different ways. Dentistry is a broad medical specialty that deals with the teeth, gum, nerves, and jaw. At the same time, orthodontics is a specialty within dentistry that focuses on correcting bites, occlusion, and the straightness of teeth.

Are they similar?

In some cases, yes, The main similarity between a dentist and orthodontist is that they both focus on oral care. An orthodontist can work in a dental office and provide the same care as a dentist. So in this respect, they are quite similar. They are both considered doctors and deal with the teeth and gums.

Where does the difference lie?

There are more differences than similarities. An orthodontist requires additional schooling as a dental specialty; the situation is similar to a doctor who obtains further education to become a surgeon. Another difference is that orthodontists specialize in helping patients with the alignment of their teeth, improving their bite, or fitting them for corrective braces and devices. If a patient has an overbite, a dentist will refer him or her to an orthodontist.    


Some of the key differences:

Dentists

  • Dentists complete a General Dental Degree.
  • A general dentist is similar to your family doctor and is very important for overall dental health. They provide a wide range of services, from dental cleanings to repairing teeth.
  • Dentists are not trained at university in putting on braces or working with clear aligners.
  • Most dentists will refer patients requiring orthodontic treatment to a certified orthodontic specialist.

Orthodontists

  • Orthodontists complete a dental degree, then a three-year specialist degree
  • Orthodontists are specialists in facial growth and dental development. Proper early intervention can reduce the need for orthodontic treatment and improve results.
  • Orthodontists are specialists in tooth and jaw alignment.     
  • Orthodontists offer many treatment types, including retainers, clear aligners, and traditional braces, and will help pick the right one for you.  Dentists often only offer one brand or type of aligner or braces.

Wrap up:

Dentists and orthodontists are two types of doctors who receive extensive practice diagnosing and treating oral health conditions. There are some things that orthodontists are certified to do that dentists aren’t. Orthodontists receive additional training, which qualifies them to install braces and diagnose a misaligned jaw.