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Orthodontist vs. Dentist: What’s the Difference?

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Dr. Randy Wright here at Wright Orthodontics in Batavia, IL. One question I get asked a lot – especially by new patients – is ‘What is the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?”

A big difference between the two is the training. Generally speaking, a dentist goes through eight years of college – a four-year bachelor’s degree program followed by four years of dental school.

An orthodontist, on the other hand, has to be a general dentist first, so you have to undergo the same schooling as someone studying to become a dentist. Then you apply to a specialty school and spend another two to three years, depending on the program, training to be an orthodontist. This is where you learn about growth and development, biomechanics, and how to move teeth. It’s pretty intense!

When it comes to creating a treatment plan to move a patient’s teeth and give them a beautiful smile, it’s so important that the doctor has the experience and knowledge needed to get the desired results.

You’ve probably heard about Invisalign, right? Well, Invisalign is a tool that gives us a way to move teeth, just like braces. What’s most important is the person using that tool. If you don’t know what you’re doing and you just take what the lab sends back to you and just assume it’s correct because you don’t have the experience to know any better, the results can sometimes be pretty awful.

Sometimes the plans they send back are impossible and will not get the patient’s teeth to move correctly, so you need to know how to make adjustments to the treatment plan to get the teeth to move the way that you want them to.

Am I saying that you shouldn’t go to the dentist? No. You absolutely should go to your dentist for regular checkups and to make sure your teeth and gums say healthy. But when it comes to improving your smile, you want someone who understands how and why teeth move and who has experience and expertise with tools like braces and Invisalign to give you a smile you can be proud of. You want an orthodontist.



Wright Orthodontics is a 
5-star family oriented practice serving the Batavia community. We specialize in orthodontic treatments for children, teens, and adults, including bracesInvisalign, and accelerated orthodontics. Call us at (630) 208-1200 or click to schedule your complimentary consultation.