The Difference Between An Orthodontist and A Dentist

Straight Smiles Orthodontics understands figuring out where to go for your dental health can be a puzzling experience at the start. Worry not! We are here to help you understand the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist so you can confidently make decisions about your health. Continue reading to learn more about these two critical professions!


Enter the World of Orthodontists


Training to become a dentist first, orthodontists, like our own Dr. Tom and Dr. Nick, dedicate themselves to a minimum of a decade of training. They begin their journey by obtaining a four-year Bachelor’s degree in a science-related field to prepare for the dental admissions test. This exam evaluates their knowledge of natural sciences, reading comprehension, and more technical skills required for success. 

Upon passing, they enter dental school, where they become experts in patient care, general dental work, and care planning through classroom and in-clinic experience. Their four years of studies conclude after earning their Doctor of Dental Medicine or Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. 

Further Education

Orthodontists take one step further in their education by mastering the specialty of orthodontics. They apply for residency to obtain the knowledge and expertise to properly and effectively align teeth. Splitting time between the classroom and with established orthodontists, they gain advanced training in diagnosing and treating malocclusion. 

After earning their final degree to become a licensed orthodontist, their required schooling ends. However, some earn board certification, undergoing another exam assessing their skills and dedication to patient care.

Primary Tasks

All that training comes into play once orthodontists have established or joined a practice. Dr. Tom and Dr. Nick are experts in helping you achieve proper jaw and tooth alignment to ensure your smile looks fantastic and functions without a hitch. Their primary focus involves diagnosing patients’ concerns, developing unique treatment plans, and skillfully aligning your teeth to match your smile goals. 

Many people correlate getting braces with being a teenager and believe they cannot get them after this period of their lives. Fortunately, that’s not true! Straight Smiles Orthodontics treats patients of all ages and achieves the same worthwhile results across the board!


Braces and Aligners

Most commonly associated with orthodontists, Straight Smile Orthodontics offers metal braces, clear braces, and clear aligners to work towards your beautiful smile. As appliances advance, it becomes easier and faster for your alignment goals to be met. Ranging from traditional to modern choices, our team can work with you to make sure the appliance best suited to your dental needs can equally suit your aesthetic needs.


Two-Phase Treatment

Interceptive treatment is a vital first step in your child’s dental journey if any issues arise during the baby teeth process. You can rely on Dr. Tom and Dr. Nick to work with your child on creating a solid foundation for permanent teeth and jaw development. 


Additional Care Provided

Straight Smile Orthodontics is proud to offer various solutions to misalignment of the jaw and bite issues. Twin block therapy moves the lower jaw to align with the upper jaw, palatal expanders widen the upper jaw to make space for teeth, and many other appliances can be used early in treatment to aid in your child’s development.


The Difference Between An Orthodontist and A Dentist

Dive into the Life of a Dentist


Completing just part of the training an orthodontist does, dentists start with the undergraduate degree necessary to apply to dental school. After studying for the dental admission test, they undergo comprehensive training in oral health, gain clinical experience to master patient care and treatment and learn about procedures such as fillings, root canals, and extractions. 

After earning their dental degree and finishing at least eight years of schooling, they can obtain an official license to practice.

Primary Tasks

Dentists utilize their skills to provide patients with comprehensive dental care covering oral disease prevention, cavities, and promoting general oral health. They can educate you on how to best care for your teeth through proper brushing and flossing techniques, monitoring food choices that impact oral health, and keeping a stellar smile.


Dentists are best known for the semi-annual cleanings they provide to establish a solid foundation of oral health. By cleaning off plaque and tartar buildup, they can professionally remove any bacteria in your mouth in out-of-the-way areas. Dentists simultaneously check for any early signs of gum disease or cavities during cleanings.

They also provide additional services, including restorative procedures like crowns, teeth whitening to improve aesthetics, dental implants to fill the space of missing teeth, and filling cavities to save your tooth from decay. Each treatment can enhance your oral health and work toward a better smile!


The Importance of Seeing Both Professionals

Because orthodontists and dentists fulfill different needs, it is vital you see both. Dentists can provide care that helps you daily by equipping you with the knowledge to prevent common oral diseases. Keeping up with your twice-yearly appointments is a great way to ensure you are able to keep your teeth in shape and properly functioning. 

Orthodontists provide specialized care that will leave you with a lifelong beautiful smile and healthy bite. Relying on an orthodontist instead of a dentist to offer you braces keeps you in the hands of a specialist like Dr. Tom and Dr. Nick, who have dedicated their professional life to teeth alignment. They can meet your dental goals efficiently and ensure you leave with a shining smile.


The Difference Between An Orthodontist and A Dentist

Schedule An Appointment With Us Today!

If you still have questions about where you receive appropriate help for your oral needs, our team will gladly answer your concerns. Are appliances, braces or clear aligners the next step of your smile journey? Our team at Straight Smiles Orthodontics is eager to help you! Contact any of our practices in Shelby Township, Novi, and Rochester Hills or visit our website to schedule a free consultation so we can help you determine the next steps in your journey for the most beautiful, straight smile!