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Differences Between Orthodontics and Dentists

Dentists focus on treating and preventing problems that affect the teeth and gums. Orthodontists mainly focus on straightening the teeth and alignment of the jaw. They fix misalignments using braces, invisible aligners, and headgear. Learn more about the main differences between orthodontists and dentists.


Orthodontics is a specialized field that focuses on straightening the teeth and jaw. Orthodontists diagnose, treat and prevent misalignments using fixed or removable devices. They must specialize in the field of orthodontics after completing dental school.

Dentists treat various diseases like gingivitis or periodontitis. Orthodontists treat malocclusions, which are not diseases but misalignments. Unlike oral surgeons, they do not perform invasive surgeries that require anesthesia. However, orthodontists may work with dentists or surgeons to combine different forms of treatments.

Dental treatments are usually short-term and last for 30 minutes to one hour. Teeth cleaning is one example of a procedure that’s needed only once a year. In contrast, orthodontic treatments last for several months or years. Straightening the teeth occurs only as the teeth grow, which is a gradual process. The investments are higher for patients who must come in for multiple visits.


Dentistry is a broader field that focuses on the general health of teeth and gums. It includes the subfield of orthodontics along with periodontics, endodontics, and cosmetic dentistry. Dentists do not have to focus on general dentistry including cleaning teeth, filling cavities and looking for signs of gum disease. They can earn one or more years of training to specialize in a chosen field.

Many people confuse orthodontists with dentists. Some think that the two careers are the same, while others don’t know the differences. Anyone who has braces or Invisalign is likely to have visited an orthodontist. At Speaks Orthodontics, our experience makes us local leaders in the field of orthodontics. Contact us to ask about our procedures, costs, and benefits.