Dentist or Orthodontist for Braces

Are braces something you’ve been considering for yourself or your child? If so, you may be wondering if this is something your general dentist is able to do, or if you’ll need to see an orthodontist. Perhaps you’re unsure of the differences between the two, and wonder what an orthodontist might have to offer that your dentist doesn’t. It’s not unusual to want to stick to what you know and what you’re comfortable with, but as it turns out, there are many valid reasons to consult with an orthodontist when contemplating corrective treatment like braces.

Although there are many similarities between dentists and orthodontists, they are not interchangeable, and there are some significant differences to take into consideration when making your choice. To learn more about these differences and why they matter, keep reading!

Education and training levels

Both dentists and orthodontists begin their careers by graduating from dental school, but from there, they take different paths. Orthodontic residency programs are extremely competitive, with only the top students in a dental school class picked to continue their education toward a specialty in orthodontics. Once accepted, orthodontists will undergo an additional two to three years of full-time training concentrating on orthodontia, with a focus on braces, bite problems, and straightening teeth. To put it in simple terms, orthodontists are essentially dentists who also have specialized, additional training in orthodontics. Although some do, most general dentists will not have this kind of rigorous supplementary training.

Only after a dentist has successfully completed this program may they refer to themselves as an orthodontist.

Are general dentists able to straighten teeth?

Technically, yes, they can. There are some dentists who are able to provide orthodontic care to their patients. There are stipulations in place, however. This is typically only permitted if the dentist has committed to taking continuing education seminars and acquiring experience in the subject. This isn’t a perfect system, though, since these workshops and seminars tend to lack the kind of rigorous training and testing needed to truly learn extensive, specific material in depth. A more superficial understanding isn’t always enough to be able to provide the best possible treatment for patients where orthodontics is concerned.

Considering a dentist for orthodontic treatment

If your primary care dentist offers orthodontic care, you may be considering using them for treatment. This is understandable since you are already familiar with your dentist and comfortable in their office. All dentists do receive basic orthodontic training in school, but before choosing to move forward with braces by your dentist, consider that an experienced orthodontist:

  • will be able to provide more treatment options, with a wide variety of braces and therapies to choose from
  • will have more experience treating multiple cases that share your physical characteristics and have similarities to your own case
  • will be more efficient at treatments and visits, since orthodontics are the only area of care they focus on
  • will be able to deliver the best possible treatment plan and outcome, especially if you have a more complicated or severe case

Because our only specialty as orthodontists is orthodontic care and treatment, we devote a great deal of time and energy to perfecting it! We perform teeth straightening procedures daily, keep up to date on the latest in industry practice, purchase the latest equipment, and take as many continuing education courses as we can throughout the year. Our experienced orthodontists are well versed in creating the best individualized treatment method for each patient. This can differ from general dentists, who may be more inclined to use a one-size-fits-all approach.

Should you choose a dentist or an orthodontist for braces?


It is always up to you as the patient to choose the care provider you feel best meets your needs. Some general dentists have a fair amount of orthodontic experience. Keep in mind, however, that any orthodontist will be focused solely on, and have more practice in dealing with, the type of dental issues that require specific orthodontic care.

You can look at it this way –  if you suddenly found yourself in need of open heart surgery, would you look to your primary care physician or an experienced cardiologist for care? Although your doctor may have received some training on heart-related issues, a cardiologist will have had a great deal more, and will also possess more experience. This can apply to teeth as well. Having a general dentist perform specialized orthodontic work is a bit like a general physician performing open heart surgery. It can be done, but would you want to risk it?

Orthodontists also put a lot of emphasis on choosing optimal treatment approaches in order to avoid any complications. With the training to notice the small things a dentist might overlook, orthodontists are able to recommend plans that can save you time and money, as well as reduce the chances of any complications developing. By seeking treatment from someone with more knowledge, experience, and specialized education, you can protect your health and your finances. Brodsky Orthodontics has everything you need for an optimal orthodontic experience.

Brodsky Orthodontics provide the best braces experience in Lakewood

young girl smiling taking selfies

Here at Brodsky, our sole specialty is orthodontics, and that means we have the necessary experience to give you the best quality, cost, and efficiency in treatment. To see this kind of care in action, we invite you to schedule a complimentary consultation at our conveniently located Lakewood office. After this initial evaluation, one of our orthodontists will be able to determine if orthodontics would benefit you, and if so, outline a personalized treatment plan for you. Even if you decide the time isn’t right for braces, or just want a second opinion, we’re happy to answer any questions or address any concerns you might have in order to make an informed decision.

If you’re in Lakewood or the surrounding area, and want more information on how Brodsky Orthodontics can benefit your smile, get in touch with us today. There’s never been a better time  to start your journey towards a healthier mouth and straighter smile!