Is there a difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dentist who has graduated from an orthodontic residency program where he or she has received extensive specialist training after dental school. Orthodontic residency programs are typically 2-3 years in duration, are full time, and are devoted to straightening teeth, correcting bites and correcting jaw discrepancies with brackets and wires, appliances, and clear aligners. After completing a residency, an orthodontist dedicates his practice only to orthodontics and treats hundreds of orthodontic patients each year. Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry which means that every orthodontist is a dentist, but not every dentist is an orthodontist. Most dental schools teach a very limited amount of orthodontics, but a general dentist is still allowed to legally practice orthodontics, as long as he doesn’t call himself an orthodontist or advertise as a specialist in orthodontics. It can be a confusing task to determine who has the additional orthodontic residency training and who does not, but if in doubt, ask the doctor if he is a true specialist in orthodontics or a general dentist practicing orthodontics. This way you can make an informed decision about where you would feel most comfortable receiving orthodontic treatment.