Orthodontist vs dentist - what's the difference?

When it comes to the well-being of your teeth and oral health, regular visits to the dentist play an important role. But orthodontists are also a key part of your oral health, and in many cases, it may be their expertise you require. If you’re unsure what an orthodontist is, you’re not alone. We outline the key differences between an orthodontist and a dentist.



Dentist vs orthodontist - key differences

An orthodontist is a dentist with further qualifications, allowing them to become a certified orthodontic practitioner.

The focus of an orthodontist is on straightening teeth and correcting jaw alignment.

Orthodontics are an important part of your overall health since crooked teeth or misaligned jaws could cause:

  • Excessive plaque build-up in hard to reach areas
  • Gingivitis (gum disease)
  • Cavities
  • Problems with digestion due to poor chewing

Dentists focus on the oral hygiene of their patients. That means they’re concerned with things like teeth cleaning, cavity repair and regular check-ups to keep an eye on your general oral health.


What training does an orthodontist have?

Once they’ve qualified as a dentist, orthodontists go through a minimum of another 3 years of specific orthodontic training. They then need to successfully pass the Membership in Orthodontic examination, set by one of the Royal College of Surgeons (Edinburgh or London).

Orthodontists are trained in all routine aspects of orthodontic diagnosis, planning and treatment.

At this stage, they may choose to apply for further advanced training in more complex care, which would allow them to become a hospital consultant.


The benefits of orthodontics

Here are just some of the many benefits of visiting an orthodontist:

  • Improved confidence
  • Removal of dental crowding or closing spaces
  • Alignment of the upper and lower dental arches
  • Correction of the bite of the teeth so the front and back teeth meet together
  • Reducing the likelihood of damage to prominent teeth
  • Enhancing facial aesthetics
  • Accommodating impacted, unerupted or displaced teeth
  • Preparation for advanced dental treatment, such as crowns, bridges or dental implants
  • Reversing the drifting of the teeth in older patients who have suffered from advanced gum disease


Why choose a specialist orthodontist?

A specialist orthodontist dedicates all their time to orthodontic care.

This means that a specialist orthodontist will usually have a greater depth of experience with the concerns you might have about straightening your teeth.

You may also find that some orthodontists, like our lead practitioner Richard Gibson, have extra qualifications for specific treatments, such as Invisalign® appliances.