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How is a dentist different from an orthodontist?

While both dentists and orthodontists help to improve your teeth and your overall oral health, they do so in different ways. Today, our Richmond Hill dentists explain the differences between the two professions.

Orthodontists vs Dentists

Both your orthodontist and dentist focus on improving the health of your teeth and they have each gone through extensive schooling and training to become certified in their profession.

However, each focuses on a different aspect of your teeth. For example, a dentist’s main priorities are the health of your teeth and gums while an orthodontist has more of a focus on your teeth’s spacing, alignment, and bite.

The Differences Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist

While there are several similarities between both a dentist and an orthodontist, there are several differences as well. These include:


Both dentists and orthodontists must go to dental school. Upon successful graduation, a dentist who begins practicing immediately is considered a general dentist. Orthodontics is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the Canadian Dental Association and to become an orthodontist you need to complete an additional two years of training to exclusively study orthodontics.

Improvements to Smile

While a dentist focuses on the health of your teeth, such as oral hygiene and treating tooth decay, an orthodontist specializes in the alignment of the teeth and jaw issues. Several of the common issues orthodontists treat include:

  • Problems with a bite (example, crossbite, underbite, overbite)
  • Jaw pain and jaw disorders
  • Crowded teeth
  • Gaps in the teeth

When visiting with your orthodontist they can provide recommendations on how to improve the function and look of your smile. Your orthodontist specializes in various treatment options such as braces and retainers to help improve your smile.

Ages to See Each Professional

The age you should first see an orthodontist and a dentist will vary. For example, the Canadian Dental Association recommends a child's first dental visit be around the time their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday. However, it is recommended to see an orthodontist much later. Children should see an orthodontist before the age of seven or after receiving a recommendation from their dentist.

At Arenson Dental & Associates, we offer a full range of dental treatments to help keep your smile healthy. Contact us today to set up an appointment. 

We Are Accepting New Patients

Our dentists at Arenson Dental & Associates are now accepting new patients. Contact us today and take the first steps to obtain better oral health outcomes.

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