What Is an Orthodontist? What Do They Do?

What Is an Orthodontist – Overview

People often get confused between a dentist and an orthodontist. Though these two professions have some similarities, an orthodontist is an expert on a specific dental problem along with other dental issues. In this article, you will learn the roles and responsibilities of an orthodontist in detail.

What Are the Differences Between Orthodontists and Dentists?

Orthodontists and dentists both provide their patients with dental care. But there is a thin line in between. Both professions require expertise in treating teeth, gums, jaw, and nerve-related issues. But when a dentist studies further to become an expert on the treatment of misalignment of teeth and jaw, then he becomes an orthodontist.

What Is an Orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dentist who has taken special training in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of irregularities or misalignment of teeth and jaw. They can give consultancy to people of all age groups. They can provide treatment of all the teeth, jaw, gum, and nerve-related issues as well. An overcrowded mouth is another condition that an orthodontist has expertise in.

How Much Training Does an Orthodontist Need?

An orthodontist needs to take all the necessary education of 12 years in a formal university to become a dentist first. According to the American Student Dental Association, you must have a degree of Doctor of Medicine and Dentistry (DMD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) to continue further.

Next, you need to obtain special education in orthodontics. You can gain your certification through a three-year residency program as well.

Most dental schools offer orthodontic residency programs after completing graduation. There are two specific areas of the discipline.

Orthodontics: This focuses on how a person can effectively move teeth into their appropriate place with safety.

Dentofacial Orthopedics: This is a study of teeth and jaw development.

After completing the study you can always collect your certification and move forward with your career.

What Does an Orthodontist Do?

What Is an Orthodontist

What Is an Orthodontist – What Does an Orthodontist Do?

An orthodontist is a specialist in fixing misaligned teeth. They can diagnose if your teeth are correctly aligned or not. They can recommend braces or any other treatment procedure as per your requirement to straighten your teeth.

Any gap in your teeth is generally called diastema. It can grow large with your age. An orthodontist will try to pull all your teeth closer to resolve the issue. Sometimes kids can develop excessive teeth that cause several problems in their mouth, an orthodontist can extract the excess teeth to align your mouth and create better spacing.

The orthodontist often uses multiple tools during the treatment procedure. Braces are the most popular solution. The orthodontist can bond brackets on your front teeth and this band can connect all the teeth via wires.

Braces can pull the teeth into the upright alignment and straighten them gradually. This process is time-consuming but safe and extremely effective simultaneously.

If braces are not the right option for the patient an orthodontist can use an aligner. Aligners are not visible from a distance which makes your smile more beautiful. It does not use any metal brackets or weirs. A patient can remove them whenever they want which makes aligners more popular and likable.

In some extreme cases, an orthodontist may need to use a palate expander in their treatment process. It can widen the arch of your upper jaw to give you more space.

Headgear is another solution to these kinds of problems. It can connect the back of your head to a wire in the frontal part of your mouth. The main focus is to pull back your front teeth while showing the upper jaw is in danger of growing fast.

An orthodontist deals with multiple dental problems like teeth or jaw misalignment, overbites, crowded teeth, underbites, crooked teeth, teeth far apart, etc.

In case of any requirement for surgery to lengthen or shorten your jaw, visiting an orthodontist will be the right choice. The orthodontist can use surgical screws, wires, or plates to provide support to your jawbone.

This surgery is only needed if the growth is stopped or an orthodontist treatment has been unsuccessful. Correction of a dental malocclusion can make your chewing, biting, and speaking easier. It can also make your cleaning process easier, preventing you from developing any tooth decay or cavities.

It can improve the symmetry of your mouth and your overall appearance. This can eliminate the pain from TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder as well.

When Do You Need to See an Orthodontist?

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, you must go for your first check-up at the age of seven. You can go for a visit if you ever have any misalignment in your teeth which is also called malocclusion.

If you are experiencing problems like a misshapen jaw, overcrowded teeth, irregular bite patterns, etc, you must visit an orthodontist immediately. Avoiding certain conditions can complicate the treatment procedure and create multiple issues.

If you ever need to perform procedures like dental x-rays, digital scans of your teeth or gum, or any oral exams, you can always make an appointment with an orthodontist.


An orthodontist has all the answers to your oral problems. They can diagnose and provide you with the appropriate treatment and prevention process for all your problems. It is important to visit an orthodontist regularly to maintain good oral hygiene and prevent your teeth from developing any major issues.

See Also

What is Pediatric Neurology?

What is Neuro Ophthalmology?

Does Medicaid Cover Braces?

Different Types of Braces?

How Long Do Braces Hurt?

Partial Dentures vs Implants

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