Are all orthodontists dentists?

At Orthosnap, we believe that our partners should be equipped to handle all of their patients’ questions regarding orthodontic treatment with ease. So, we have devised this patient-friendly guide to distinguish the difference between two commonly confused dental professionals: dentists and orthodontists.

Similarly, dentists and orthodontists are clinically trained dental professionals. Yet, while all orthodontists are dentists, not all dentists are orthodontists. Nevertheless, some dentists acquire additional training after completing dental school to become equipped to handle orthodontic treatment, like Orthosnap.

In this blog, we will take a closer look at how dentists and orthodontists are similar and different so that you know which type of dental professional you should visit based on which oral health goals you’re trying to achieve.

Oral Health Focus

One factor that sets dentists and orthodontists apart is their treatment focus:


Generally, dentists are who you go to when you need to keep your teeth healthy. Most general dentists focus on oral health issues, such as preventative, cosmetic, and restorative dental services.

In a nutshell, a general dentist diagnoses and treats oral health conditions of the teeth, gums, tongue, and mouth.


Orthodontists receive the same education as dentists but take it a step further and undergo additional orthodontics training. During this time, an orthodontist becomes equipped to become a dental specialist in diagnosing and treating misaligned teeth and jaws.

Orthodontists specialize in correcting simple, moderate, and complex alignment problems, including spacing, alignment, and bite issues.

Dental School and Other Training

Becoming licensed dentists and orthodontists requires extensive education and training:


Both dentists and orthodontists must begin their educational journey with a bachelor’s degree. Next, they must gain admission to, complete, and attend dental school. During dental school, they generally are part of a residency program to gain hands-on dentistry experience.

After extensive training from an accredited dental school, dentists earn a dental degree in Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD).

Then, a dentist must pass state licensing exams specific to the state where they want to practice dentistry.


Before becoming a certified orthodontist, orthodontists must follow all of the educational requirements of dentists. Then, orthodontists complete a supplementary orthodontic residency program and must become board-certified orthodontists before practicing.

Dentists vs. Orthodontists: Which dental health professional should you visit next?

By and large, general dentists focus on overall dental care, including preventing ailments (like gum disease), restoring smiles to their former glory, and making teeth look more beautiful.

Conversely, orthodontists provide specialty care and solely concentrate on providing orthodontic services (for example, straightening teeth).

Undergo Regular Checkups

One part of general dentistry visits is regular checkups. Regular dental visits are essential, and the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that patients visit their general dentist once or twice a year.

Your dentist can identify oral health problems early at checkups before treatment becomes more complex and expensive. Plus, taking care of your overall oral health can help prevent many health issues from emerging in the first place. For instance, your doctor might use x-rays to look closer at your mouth, teeth, and jaws for signs of oral cancer. Usually, patients also get their teeth professionally cleaned during checkup appointments too.

Tackle Tooth Decay

If you want to prevent tooth decay or are worried that you might have a cavity, visit a general dentist. Dental hygienists have the tools to properly clean your teeth to prevent cavities and improve overall health.

If you have a cavity, your dentist will treat the decayed teeth by removing the unwanted tissue or performing root canals. Then, he or she will either fill, cap, or (in a worst-case scenario) remove them.

Manage Gum Disease

Did you know that almost half of all adults in the United States suffer from some form of periodontal disease? One reason to visit the dentist is to prevent and manage gum disease. Typically, dentists help individuals prevent gum disease through dental cleanings and teaching patients how to maintain proper oral hygiene.

Fun fact! Individuals who choose clear aligner therapy (like Orthosnap) to straighten their teeth tend to have better gum health than those who choose fixed oral appliances (like traditional metal braces).

Want Cosmetic Dentistry

There’s no shame in wanting a smile that stands out as much as you do! If you’re interested in achieving a beautiful smile through teeth whitening, porcelain veneers, or other cosmetic dentistry needs, visit a general dentist.

Need To Restore Missing Teeth

While it’s natural to lose baby teeth during childhood, what should you do if you lose permanent teeth? In short, you should contact your general dentist as soon as possible. They can find a personalized solution for missing permanent teeth.

Interested in Orthodontic Treatment

Are you embarrassed by crowded teeth or crooked teeth? Should you see an orthodontist or dentist for braces or clear aligner therapy?

If you’re interested in straightening teeth, it’s wise to visit your dentist before visiting the orthodontist for orthodontic care. Although not all dentists offer orthodontic treatments, some do and can serve as a one-stop shop for a wide range of dental services. If needed, a general dentist can refer patients to an orthodontist for more extensive orthodontic treatments.

Although many general dentists prescribe clear aligner therapy for patients with misalignment, they might suggest to their patients to see an orthodontist if they do not qualify for clear aligner therapy. If this is the case, a certified orthodontist might suggest lingual braces so that you can have a fixed orthodontic device that can still straighten teeth discreetly.

Become an Orthosnap Partner Today

Orthosnap provides everything patients and doctors need for a seamless experience for both parties. Our services include:

  • Comprehensive consultations with our representatives
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Training and product updates
  • Online portal for case tracking
  • Customed plans with objectives set by the practice
  • Marketing support
  • Custom packaging
  • Educational materials for doctors and patients

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to expand your dental practice. Contact our team today at (516) 506-7606 or message us online to learn more.