Orthodontist or Dentist? | Wiewiora & Dunn Orthodontics
An Orthodontist and a dentist

Orthodontist or Dentist – Which One Do You Need to See?

June 14, 2024

Many people use the terms orthodontist and dentist interchangeably. While both types of doctors treat your mouth, they provide different specialized services. It may seem confusing at first, but the differences are actually easy to understand. Let’s take a look at the differences between an orthodontist and a dentist, as well as which one you may need.

Knowing the Differences

Dentists and orthodontists may work together in the same practice, but it’s more common to find them with separate practices in order to focus more individually on the needs of each patient. At our practice, Wiewiora & Dunn Orthodontics, Dr. Cara Wiewiora and Dr. Rick Dunn solely provide orthodontic treatment.

The main differences between dentists and orthodontists are:

  • Training
  • Specialization
  • Treatment


When it comes to training and education, orthodontists and dentists begin at the same starting point. 

To become a dentist, a person must complete four years of undergraduate education and four years of dental school. After completing their studies, dentists must pass a rigorous written exam and a clinical licensing exam before they’re qualified to practice. Qualified dentists include the letters DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine) after their names.

An orthodontist, on the other hand, will pursue further training after earning a license and dentistry degree. This additional education requires over 4,000 hours of training and two to three years of residency experience.


Dentists focus on overall oral health. The American Dental Association (ADA) defines their duties as follows.

  • Diagnosing oral diseases.
  • Promoting oral health and disease prevention.
  • Creating treatment plans to maintain or restore the oral health of their patients.
  • Interpreting X-rays and diagnostic tests.
  • Ensuring the safe administration of anesthetics.
  • Monitoring growth and development of the teeth and jaws.

Dentists also perform restorative and cosmetic dentistry procedures, such as crowns, bridges, veneers, bonding and teeth whitening. 

Treatments an Orthodontist Can Provide

An orthodontist specializes in correcting teeth and jaw alignment. You may need an orthodontist if you have a misaligned jaw, crowded teeth, gaps between teeth or other similar problems. While some dentists may provide a small number of orthodontic services, they generally do not provide the same high level of specialization and experience an orthodontist offers, nor can a dentist offer as many treatment options for alignment issues as an orthodontist.

Wiewiora & Dunn Orthodontics offers many treatment options. Our priority is to help you achieve an optimal, confident smile through correcting bites and alignment. Our treatment options include traditional metal braces, ceramic (clear) braces, gold braces, Invisalign, and even more specialized treatment plans according to your specific needs. 

Additionally, our state-of-the-art iTero® Element™ scanner provides a less invasive, more comfortable and more accurate digital impression of your mouth compared to traditional methods. As orthodontists, we are committed to providing compassionate individualized care with consistently positive corrective results.

Which is Right for You?

You will always need to see a dentist for regular checkups. At times, dentists may be able to provide a limited number of orthodontic treatments. However, orthodontists have the experience and knowledge to provide the optimal treatment plan for correcting your smile. This is why most dentists will refer you to an orthodontist if you need braces or other corrective treatment. Ultimately, both orthodontists and dentists are on the same team to help you achieve the best possible oral health.

Wiewiora & Dunn Orthodontics provides the high-quality special treatment that your smile deserves. From Invisalign to braces for teens (and all ages), you can rest assured knowing that our professional staff will be with you every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your appointment at either our Longwood or Lake Mary office, and look forward to smiling with confidence.

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