Difference Between A Dentist & Orthodontist

Difference Between A Dentist & Orthodontist
Posted on 03/24/2017


With Dr. Lauren Cai, you are treated like family! We always advocate transparency and want to ensure that you feel comfortable asking us anything related to your orthodontic treatment. One question we’ve gotten often is, “What is the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?” While on the surface it might seem like there isn’t much of a difference—after all both are working to improve your smile and went to dental school— but there are stark characteristics that set them apart.

What is a Dentist?

Most people are introduced to a dentist at a much younger age than they do with an orthodontist. This is because infants are supposed to see a dentist within the first six months to a year. This ensures that the dentist is able to find any early abnormalities that may exist and anticipate them with future treatment.

Dentist focus on the overall health of the teeth, gums, tissue, and bacteria within the mouth. This is why it is important for patients to see a dentist at least twice a year. Dentist are able to detect important oral health indicators such as tooth decay and gum diseases. Beyond that, most dentists are licensed surgeons and are able to perform various oral procedures such as root canals. That being said, dentists are often unable to treat orthodontic problems such as underbites, overbites, crowding, etc., because dentists do not spend extra schooling specializing in orthodontics.

What is an Orthodontist?

It is common for a dentist to refer children to an orthodontist around the age of 7. While 7 is often to young to start braces or Invisalign, it’s not too early to detect orthodontic problems and start early orthodontic treatment (such as expanders). If a child waits until he or she is older to visit the orthodontist, problems that could have been prevented can occur and make orthodontic treatment more difficult in the long run.

Orthodontists are specialists in the way the mouth should function in terms of the bite and teeth placement. This ensures that there are no problems chewing food, or damage being done to the jaw or tendons. Through orthodontic treatment such as braces and Invisalign, orthodontists are able to straighten teeth, improve underbites or overbites, and solve overcrowding—all of which also improve your smile.

Contact Your Vancouver, WA Orthodontist Today!

If you would like to know more information about these professions, please feel free to contact us during our office hours. Our friendly staff at Dr. Lauren Cai’s office look forward to meeting you and answering any questions you may have about our services. We also have two convenient orthodontics offices located in Vancouver and Longview, WA.

Dr. Lauren Cai

  • Longview Office - 870 12th Ave., Longview, WA 98632 Phone: 360-425-8210 Fax: 360-577-1605
  • Vancouver Office - 15593 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver, WA 98684 Phone: 360-882-5090 Fax: 360-882-5121

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