Orthodontists and dentists: know the difference
For many of us, our experience of the dental profession probably started with a visit to the dental nurse’s clinic at primary school. Hopefully, this continued with regular check-ups to a family dentist. But not everyone has visited an orthodontic clinic, nor required orthodontic care. So for those who do, what is the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?
What does an orthodontist do?
Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that focuses specifically on straightening teeth and ensuring your jaws are correctly aligned. Both are important to ensure your mouth functions properly when eating and chewing. Crooked or misaligned teeth and jaws can cause an array of oral and overall health problems such as digestive issues (if you’re unable to chew your food properly) and gingivitis (gum disease).
An orthodontist will ensure your teeth and jaws are aligned correctly to avoid the risk of problems such as these developing. This is different to a dentist checking the overall health of your teeth, fixing cavities and helping you to keep up a good oral hygiene routine.
What training does an orthodontist have?
An orthodontist is a trained dentist who has embarked on three years of postgraduate study to specialise in the field of orthodontics. Although dentists can and do provide braces treatment, orthodontists have had further training in this area and are deemed specialists.
|Qualifications & Memberships
|Doctor of Dental Surgery (4 years)
|Master of Orthodontics (MOrth) (3 years)
|Member of professional orthodontic bodies, eg. Australian Society of Orthodontists
|Treatments & Services
|General 6-month check-up
|Fillings & extractions
|Cleaning & polishing
|Advises on overall oral health of teeth and gums
|Fitting of orthodontic appliances, such as braces & Invisalign aligners
|Some general dentists may fit braces and Invisalign but they are not specialists in orthodontics
|Experience & training
|Is specifically trained in the movement of teeth and bite issues
|Recommends and treats patients after assessing overall facial profile
|Uses the latest in orthodontic technology for the benefit of patients
|Attends regular training on developments in the orthodontic industry
|Is a member of The Invisible Orthodontist (TIO) Network
|Not all orthodontists are members of TIO but those who are demonstrate further commitment to promoting invisible orthodontic treatment.