Difference Between an Orthodontist and A Dentist

It takes seven seconds for a person to make the first impression. Seven seconds is not long to judge a character, but it’s long enough to consider a person’s visual appeal. People make the first impression based on how we look, act, smile, behave and wear ourselves. A smile can leave a long-lasting impression, and the impression can be both positive and negative.

 Your smile should be radiant and healthy. If you’re unsure about your smile, two types of doctors can help. On the one hand, there’s a dentist; on the other, there’s an orthodontist. Here’s how you can tell the difference between the two, based on the times to see each. In simple terms, a dentist is someone you visit when you need to assess the health of your teeth. In contrast, an orthodontist can help with teeth alignment, jaw position and the beauty of your natural smile.

You will go to a dentist for a checkup

A dentist is your go-to health professional when you need to assess the health of your teeth. This person will look at all your teeth to check for cavities and gum disease, assess the state of your fillings and suggest the next steps. 

If you need to do a bit of tooth cleaning, they will suggest the most beneficial procedure to remove plaque or buildup. If you need to fix a cavity, they will also tell you what has to be done. All in all, you will go to the dentist for regular six-month dental checkups.

You will visit an orthodontist to assess teeth position

If your teeth are misaligned or crooked, you will visit an orthodontist to check the state of your teeth. Teeth can be misaligned due to many reasons, but each one of them has a solution. Dental misalignments are not just an aesthetic problem; they can cause a range of other tissues, like speech problems, and difficulties in proper teeth cleaning, which can lead to cavities, etc. An orthodontist will best advise you on your teeth misalignment issue.

You will go to the dentist when you experience pain

If you feel discomfort, pain when chewing, sudden throbbing pain or even a toothache, you should- head straight to the dentist. When you go to the dentist regularly, these types of dental issues can be taken care of quickly.

Any change, discolouration, infection, or disease can be recognised early during preventative care. That’s why everyone should follow the recommended frequency of dental check-ups. Especially if you missed an appointment or two, the sudden pain is a clear sign of a problem with your teeth health.

You will go to the orthodontist if you want to wear braces

An orthodontist is the person you want to go to to discuss the treatment for misaligned teeth. Whether the problem is by crowded teeth, misalignment, overbite or underbite, a skilled and dedicated orthodontist will know how to address the issue. 

There are different types of braces and treatments for teeth straightening. The compexity of the problem will determine which one of the available braces and teeth aligners is the most suitable option. Even if you want to fix the issue by wearing the Invisalign, your kind of problem might be better treated with fixed metal or ceramic braces.

The dentist can treat gum disease

A dentist can diagnose and treat gum disease. If it’s not treated, it can cause tooth loss, bacteria and inflammation, abscesses or pockets of pus and other related teeth health issues. So, if you experience bleeding gums, or any swelling or redness, it’s time to visit the dentist.

They will examine your teeth and gums, suggest an x-ray, and prescribe antibiotics to suppress the inflammation and bacterial infection. Lastly, if there’s any need for surgical intervention, they will advise on the best oral surgeon.  

If the inflammation is just minor, they will prescribe the medications and suggest proper hygiene steps to prevent further disease or worsening.

An orthodontist can help with a TMJ disorder

A TMJ disorder can cause other related issues if left untreated. People with misaligned teeth can be prone to this condition as it is one of the underlying factors. They will perform a bite analysis to assess how the teeth come together and how the jaw moves during various motions.

An orthodontic treatment is often a prescribed solution after the orthodontist thoroughly examines it. However, other possible solutions include custom-made oral appliances like splints or night guards. Sometimes, even pain management needs, so an orthodontist will work with a dentist to prescribe the best medication.


Whether you need a dentist or an orthodontist is not a guessing game. The only way to get the answer is to go and visit one of them. A good dentist will perform a thorough exam and suggest the types of treatment you can get. One of these treatments can be an orthodontic treatment, so you’ll get the recommendation to visit an orthodontist.

A skilled orthodontist will do the same – your teeth must be healthy or treated before any orthodontic treatment. In this case, it is also good to fix all cavities and have your teeth cleaned before you proceed with the orthodontic treatment.