Orthodontist vs Dentist

Which Should You See?

Orthodontist vs Dentist

When it comes to improving you smile, it can often be confusing as to who should you see – a general dentist or a specialist orthodontist? See below why a specialist orthodontist is the smart choice. 

While general dentists are trained to handle a variety of oral health issues, orthodontists specialise in straightening teeth and correcting bite issues. But what exactly distinguishes these two types of professionals, and why might you consider seeing a specialist orthodontist instead of a dentist?

First, let’s define our terms. A dentist is a general practitioner who performs a wide range of dental procedures, from routine cleanings and fillings to more complex treatments like root canals and oral surgery. They are trained to diagnose and treat a variety of oral health issues, both preventative and restorative. On the other hand, an orthodontist is a specialist who focuses specifically on correcting misaligned teeth and jaws. They receive an additional 3 years of full time education and training beyond what dentists receive, allowing them to diagnose and treat more complex orthodontic issues like overbites, underbites, and crossbites.

How Can We Help?

Why choose a specialist orthodontist instead of a dentist for your orthodontic needs?

Here are a few reasons:

Specialised expertise

As we mentioned, orthodontists receive additional 3 years of full-time university education and training beyond what dentists receive, focusing on the area of orthodontic treatment. This means that they have a deeper understanding of tooth movement, jaw alignment, and bite issues, and are better equipped to diagnose and treat complex cases. While a dentist may be able to offer some basic orthodontic treatments, such as braces or clear aligners, they will not have the same level of expertise as a specialist orthodontist.

Customized treatment plans

Because orthodontists have specialised training in orthodontic treatment, they are better equipped to create customized treatment plans that are tailored to each patient's unique needs. They can take into account factors like jaw shape, tooth size, and bite alignment to create a treatment plan that will effectively correct any issues and give the patient the best possible results.

Advanced technology

Orthodontists often have access to advanced orthodontic technology that may not be available in a general dental practice. For example, they may use 3D imaging to create precise models of a patient's teeth and jaws, or advanced computer software to plan out complex orthodontic treatments. This can lead to more accurate diagnoses and more effective treatment.

Better outcomes

Ultimately, seeing a specialist orthodontist for your orthodontic treatment can lead to better outcomes. Orthodontists have a deeper understanding of tooth movement and jaw alignment, which means they can create treatment plans that will effectively correct any issues and give the patient the best possible results. They can also diagnose and treat complex cases that a general dentist may not be equipped to handle, which can lead to better long-term outcomes.

Does it cost more to see a specialist orthodontist instead of a dentist?

No! This is a common misconception.

Specialist orthodontists often charge the same amount for treatment as general dentists.

Why is this? Because the practice is designed only for orthodontic care, it enables it to be more efficient. At Ellenbrook Orthodontics we pride ourselves on offering affordable treatment, with interest free payment plans, that match those offered by general dentists. 

Furthermore, while orthodontic treatment may be more expensive than basic dental treatments like cleanings or fillings, investing in orthodontic treatment by a specialist can save you money in the long run. By correcting orthodontic issues early on, you can prevent more serious problems down the line that may require more extensive and expensive treatment.

When to see a general dentist and when to see an orthodontist

While dentists and orthodontists both play important roles in maintaining and improving oral health, there are significant differences between the two. 

When to make an appointment with your dentist?

You should see your general dentist for the following:

  1. General oral health: your dentist is your go-to for all your general oral health needs. This includes regular check-ups and cleans whilst undergoing orthodontic treatment
  2. Fillings and tooth extractions: if any extractions are required for your orthodontic treatment, our specialist orthodontist will refer you back to your general family dentist to have this done. 
  3. Tooth whitening: best to discuss your options and the best one for your with your general dentist

When to make an appointment with an orthodontist?

When considering any type of change to your smile or bite, you should consult with a specialist orthodontist. This includes:

  1. Teeth straightening: this is what orthodontists do, all day, every day. Whether you want metal braces, ceramic braces or clear aligners, a specialist orthodontist is who you should see!
  2. Issues with jaw alignment: if your bite is incorrect or you have any issues with jaw alignment, an orthodontist is the best person to contact. 
  3. Broken wires, brackets, clear aligners or retainers: if you are currently undergoing orthodontic treatment and are having any issues, you should contact your treating orthodontist ASAP!


So if you’re looking to improve your smile and correct any orthodontic issues, consider seeing a specialist orthodontist and taking advantage of their specialised knowledge and expertise.

Can dentists do braces?

Yes, dentists can, and many do, do braces. They may do additional training in the form of a weekend course, or week long course, then advertise they do orthodontic treatment such as Invisalign or braces. They may even call themselves “orthodontic dentists” – this is just a name for a general dentist who does orthodontic treatment. They are not a specialist.


How do I know if they are a dentist or orthodontist?

The easiest way is just to ask! You should always feel comfortable that you are getting the treatment you want so if you are not sure whether they are a general dentist or a specialist orthodontis, simply ask. 


Do you need a referral to see an orthodontist?

No, you can see an orthodontist without needing to get a referral. Simply contact our friendly team – we can’t wait to meet you!

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