Dentist vs. Orthodontist: What Is the Difference?

Despite the fact that they both work to keep your oral health at its peak and have similar educational backgrounds, orthodontists and dentists are two different professionals. The DAHER Orthostyle™, team has compiled the following differences to help you get a better understanding of how they are equipped to help you.


Both dentists and orthodontists must get a bachelor’s degree and complete a four-year doctoral program in dental school. Graduates of these programs are considered general dentists and can begin practicing dentistry. Orthodontists begin as general dentists and then complete further schooling to specialize in their field Becoming an orthodontist involves a 2 to 3 year residency in orthodontics from a program approved by the Canadian Dental Association.. On average, orthodontists complete a total of10 to 11 years of post-secondary education, compared to the 8 years for dentists.

General Roles

Dentists typically monitor and assess your general oral health needs through regular check-ups, X-rays and cleanings. Additionally, they are licensed to repair your teeth by filling in cavities and designing prosthetic teeth in the form of crowns, implants and dentures. From gum care and teeth whitening to bridges, dentistry is a more generalized profession that aims to keep each tooth healthy and functioning properly. Orthodontists, on the other hand, are concerned with the foundation of your smile, and aim to position each tooth to create an optimal biting relationship.Orthodontists use appliances such as wires, braces and Invisalign to correct problems such as under bites, overbites or overcrowded teeth.


Office Set-up:

At a general dental office, you will typically find at least one receptionist, dental hygienists, dental assistants and dentists who manage appointments in separate areas of the clinic.  There is often an administrative staff devoted to processing insurance claims as billing insurance companies directly for dental procedures is a commonly offered service. General dental offices may be open up to 7 days a week and may have a wide range of office hours to accommodate patients.  Some will limit their practice to patients of a certain age, or with specific needs. Orthodontic offices will be run by certified specialists, and are typically open only on weekdays. In BC, orthodontists do not bill insurance companies directly.  Specialized dental assistants will often manage appointments under the direction of the orthodontist.  A dedicated treatment coordinator will be the team member responsible for facilitating the initial visit with the orthodontist and help assess the needs of prospective clients. Appointments are conducted in an open-concept floor-plan, often without walls between patient chairs.

Other Facts

Some general dentists may offer orthodontic treatments, although their experience and education may not equip them as well as that of a specialist to offer the best treatment possible. Dentists typically refer complex cases to a qualified orthodontist if they observe problems that may require orthodontic treatment. Many dentists and orthodontists work together to coordinate treatment goals and procedures. It’s ideal to have all dental professionals communicating clearly and working together to provide optimal care.  Patients should not feel guilty for choosing a specialist to monitor their specific treatment needs. A good dentist should prefer to have their patients see a specialist, when needed.

Our team at DAHER Orthostyle is experienced and passionate about our orthodontic work and can guarantee you a comprehensive service that will keep bite stable and functioning properly. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, give us a call at (604) 913-1555and we’ll be happy to assist you.


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