Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist

A dentist is similar to your family doctor — great for check-ups and filling cavities. An orthodontist is a specialist who has two to three years of additional education, and is an expert in straightening your teeth and choosing the treatment option that’s best for you.

~ American Association of Orthodontists (AAO)

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a dentist and an orthodontist? Simply put an orthodontist is a dentist that specializes in the alignment of teeth. Before becoming an orthodontist Dr. Lach started out in dental school and earned a DDS (dental degree), just like other dentists. After dental school, however, Dr. Lach decided he wanted to learn more about orthodontics, which is one of nine specialties within the dental field. So he stayed in school for a few more years and became an expert in orthodontics; which focuses on tooth and jaw alignment and bite problems like overbites and underbites. These are all specializations that dentist do not learn about in depth when getting a DDS.

Other dental specialties you may have heard of include endodontics (focusing on the soft tissue inside your teeth), periodontics (focusing on the gums and other tissues surrounding your teeth) and prosthodontics (focusing on restoring and replacing damaged teeth).

Visiting a dentist on a regular schedule for cleanings, fillings, and general oral health checkups is very important. However, it is equally important that you have your child screened by an orthodontist by the age of 7 to ensure you’re his or her jaw has the room to accommodate their incoming teeth and that everything is coming along smoothly. The AAO believes that, “putting off a check-up with an orthodontist until a child has lost all baby teeth could be a disservice. Some orthodontic problems may be easier to correct if they are found early. A check-up no later than age 7 gives your orthodontist the opportunity to recommend the appropriate treatment at the appropriate time.” Our office offers a complimentary first visit because we understand the importance of early detection.