The Difference Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist

Navigating the world of oral health can often lead to the question: What’s the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?

At Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics, we understand the intricacies of oral health care and are dedicated to clarifying these roles for you. The expertise of both dentists and orthodontists is vital to maintaining not just the beauty of your smile but its health, too. In this post, we’ll unveil the distinct roles each professional plays in oral care, ensuring you’re equipped with the knowledge to make informed decisions for your dental needs. Let’s take a look:

Understanding the Dental Profession


Dentists lay the foundation of general dental care. Their journey begins with an undergraduate degree, followed by rigorous training at dental school, culminating in either a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree. This extensive education equips them with a comprehensive understanding of overall oral health, covering everything from tooth decay and gum disease to oral hygiene. Dentists are often the first point of contact for patients seeking routine dental care and are instrumental in diagnosing and treating a wide range of dental issues.


Orthodontists, while initially following a similar educational path as dentists, delve deeper into a specialized field. After completing dental school, they undergo additional years of residency training, focusing exclusively on the diagnosis, prevention, and correction of misaligned teeth and jaws. This advanced training hones their skills in specific treatments like braces, aligners, and other orthodontic appliances. 

At Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics, our orthodontists leverage this specialized training to offer personalized care plans, ensuring optimal alignment and function of our patient’s teeth and jaws, thus contributing significantly to both their oral health and overall well-being.

Now that we’ve highlighted the specialized expertise of our orthodontists at Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics let’s explore the specific responsibilities and treatment options that both dentists and orthodontists provide, starting with the comprehensive care offered by dentists:

Dentists: Your Daily Dental Health Advocates

Dentists serve as the primary guardians of your oral health. Their responsibilities encompass a wide range of dental care:

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Dentists perform routine examinations, identifying problems like cavities, gum diseases, and early signs of oral cancer.
  • Preventative care is a key focus, with dentists educating patients on maintaining oral hygiene through proper brushing, flossing, and nutritional guidance.
  • Regular dental check-ups are crucial for early detection and prevention of oral health issues.

Range of Treatments:

  • Routine procedures include fillings for cavities, root canal treatments for dental infections, and dental cleanings to prevent plaque buildup.
  • Dentists also perform cosmetic procedures, such as teeth whitening and veneer applications, enhancing the aesthetics of a patient’s smile.
  • For more advanced dental issues, they provide prosthetic solutions like bridges or implants.

In the overarching framework of oral health, the role of a dentist is indispensable. At Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics, we value dentists’ foundational work in maintaining our patient’s oral health and often collaborate with them to offer comprehensive dental care solutions.

The Difference Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist

Orthodontists: Masters of Alignment

Orthodontists specialize in the intricacies of teeth and jaw alignment, a crucial aspect of dental health that goes beyond the scope of general dentistry:

Key Responsibilities:

  • Orthodontists are trained to identify misalignments in the teeth and jaw, known as malocclusions. These can include issues like overbites, underbites, crossbites, open bites, and crowding or spacing issues.
  • They create customized treatment plans that take into account the patient’s unique dental structure, their specific alignment issues, and their treatment goals.
  • Orthodontists are skilled in applying various orthodontic appliances that are used to move teeth and jaws into proper alignment gradually.

Specialized Care Options:

  • Traditional Metal Braces: The most common and effective method that involves brackets and wires to correct a wide range of alignment issues.
  • Invisalign: Custom-made, removable clear plastic aligners, popular for their discreet appearance and convenience.
  • Ceramic Braces: Functionally similar to metal braces but with clear or tooth-colored brackets for a less visible appearance.

Our Orthodontists at Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics play a pivotal role in transforming smiles and enhancing oral health. Their specialized skills and dedication to patient care ensure that every individual receives the highest standard of orthodontic treatment, leading to not just a beautiful smile but also a healthier one.

How Dentists and Orthodontists Collaborate for Your Oral Health

The collaboration between dentists and orthodontists is pivotal in providing comprehensive oral healthcare:

  • Preventive and Diagnostics: Dentists play a crucial role in early detection and prevention of dental issues. Regular dental check-ups can uncover problems that might require orthodontic intervention, such as misalignments or bite issues.
  • Referral and Treatment Planning: Often, dentists refer patients to orthodontists when they identify alignment problems during routine examinations. This collaborative approach ensures that patients receive specialized care tailored to their specific needs.
  • Comprehensive Oral Care: Orthodontists and dentists work in tandem to coordinate treatment plans. This ensures that procedures like orthodontic adjustments complement general dental care, resulting in a harmonious and effective treatment plan.
  • Post-Treatment Collaboration: After orthodontic treatment, ongoing collaboration between the orthodontist and dentist is essential to maintain the achieved results and ensure overall oral health.

This partnership between dentistry and orthodontics at Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics ensures patients receive the highest standard of care, addressing all aspects of their oral health.

The Difference Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist

Why Choose Us?

At Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics, we blend cutting-edge technology with personalized care to transform your orthodontic experience. Our team of dedicated professionals is committed to excellence, ensuring each patient receives tailored treatments suited to their unique needs. We pride ourselves on creating a welcoming, supportive environment where patients feel valued and informed every step of the way. With a strong focus on innovation and continuous learning, we offer the latest in orthodontic solutions, from traditional braces to advanced clear aligners.

Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics expertly navigates the intersection of general dentistry and specialized orthodontic care. Begin your journey to optimal oral health with us! For guidance or to explore treatment options, contact us for a free consultation, and let’s craft your path to a brilliant smile together.