smiling teen girl with braces

So you have decided to take the next step in your oral care and invest in some braces for yourself or your child. You may be wondering, “Why do I need to go see an orthodontist? I already have a dentist and they can do the same thing as an orthodontist, right? Or why do I do I need a to get another doctor? I trust the one I’ve got.” These are all valid questions, but it is a bit more complex than that. We understand not wanting to go through the hassle of going to another doctor’s office and with someone you may not know.  But when it comes to getting the best oral treatment that you can get you want to go with the best.


It’s such a crucial treatment that you don’t want to cut corners on who is taking care of you. Picking a dentist over an experienced and knowledgeable orthodontist could lead to wasted time and possibly painful complications.  Craig and Streight Orthodontics want to make sure you make the right choice when it comes time to get yours or your children’s braces.  We will help explain the differences between a dentist and orthodontist and why you should choose an orthodontist to take care of your oral treatment.

Similarities and Differences

Thinking that a Dentist and Orthodontist are the same thing isn’t that uncommon.  They both deal with teeth right?  Well yes but one happens to be a more specialized than the other. Understanding what these two doctors can do for you will make more informed on who to chose for overall teeth cleaning and who to work with for braces.


Dentists specialize in problems with the teeth and gums. They deal mostly with general dental problems, like tooth decay and gum disease, and encourage their patients to practice good oral hygiene and get regular cleanings every six months.


Orthodontists go through the same schooling as a dentist but then go through a two-year residency program specializing in orthodontics.  An orthodontist deals with more serious problems such as tooth and jaw alignment.  They spend these two extra years studying how teeth move and grow and how the jaw functions. Orthodontists primarily deal with malocclusions, which are problems with the bite.  Some of the most common issues they treat are:

  • overbite
  • underbite
  • crowded teeth
  • crossbite
  • improperly spaced teeth

As you can see an orthodontist knows quite a bit about your teeth that a normal dentist is not familiar with. With this type of specialization, you know that an orthodontist is skilled in braces because it is what he works on all day.

Schooling and Training

smiling girl with glasses and bracesOrthodontist and dentist have to graduate from the same dental schools and must undergo extensive training. However, the orthodontist goes through another two or three years of orthodontics residency program.  Becoming an orthodontist is very competitive, and only 10% of the top dentist make it into the program. These guys are the best dentist there are and only after successfully completing the two-three years of full-time training can they call themselves orthodontist.  As an orthodontist, they can now work on braces, bite problems, and straightening teeth.


Can Dentist provide teeth straightening?

The short answer is yes, but it is a bit more complicated than that. The only way a dentist can perform orthodontic treatments is if they go to continuing education seminars and gain experience working with an orthodontist. They can also attend workshops to supplement their lack of knowledge of the treatments, but it is not the same specialization that an orthodontist trains in.  Dentists do not go through the rigorous testing and examinations that an orthodontist study extensively to understand this specific material in depth. For the most part, dentists realize this and recommend an orthodontist that they trust to take care of their patients.


Orthodontists work with teeth straightening and jaw alignments on a continuous basis. They also attend continuing education seminars so that they can keep up with all the new methods and techniques that keep changing in the orthodontic field. Orthodontists also have the best and most up-to-date technology to take care of your orthodontic treatment.  They customize the oral treatment specifically for you, where as a dentist takes the approach that one size fits all.


So do you choose a dentist or an orthodontist?

smiling girl with braces

Of course, the choice is up to the patient whether they want to go with their dentist or an orthodontist. Think of it this way: you don’t want just any surgeon doing open heart surgery, right? No, you want a cardiologist to take care of you because they specialize in that field.  It goes the same for dentists and orthodontists.  A dentist takes care of general oral care whereas the orthodontist specializes in metal braces, Invisalign, ceramic braces, and teeth straightening.  Why would you go to a dentist that doesn’t know the in’s and outs of orthodontic care? You wouldn’t, going with an orthodontist that has the knowledge and experience is what will lead to success with your new braces.


Craig and Streight Orthodontics want all of your friends and future patients to be knowledgeable about their oral care. Providing the best experience optimized for your oral care is of the utmost importance to us.  We want your braces treatment to be successful and without any complications. Craig and Streight orthodontic team has the knowledge and experience to the individual care that it takes to create the beautiful smile of your dreams. If you are in the Norman, Mustang or Oklahoma City area, please give us a call and schedule a free consultation. We would be more than happy to discuss and help you with traditional metal braces, ceramic braces or maybe Invisalign treatment.  Our amazing team at Craig and Streight would love to talk with you and discuss the positive impact an orthodontic treatment can have for you.

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