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Orthodontist vs. Dentist: Understanding the Difference at SW3 Dental

At SW3 Dental, we understand that choosing the right dental professional for your oral health needs is crucial. You may have heard the terms "orthodontist" and "dentist" before, but what sets them apart? By understanding the difference, you can make an informed decision and ensure you receive the best possible care for your smile.

The Role of an Orthodontist

Orthodontists are dental specialists who focus on the alignment and occlusion of teeth and jaws. They play a vital role in diagnosing, preventing, and treating dental irregularities to achieve optimal oral health and aesthetics.

Orthodontic Specialisation

Orthodontists undergo additional education and training after completing dental school. This specialised training equips them with the knowledge and skills to diagnose and correct various orthodontic issues, including misaligned teeth, overcrowding, overbites, underbites, and crossbites. They utilize various orthodontic appliances and techniques to align and straighten teeth, creating a balanced and harmonious smile.

Focus on Alignment and Occlusion

Orthodontists focus on achieving proper tooth alignment and occlusion (the way teeth come together when biting). They evaluate the relationship between teeth, jaws, and facial structures to create a functional and aesthetically pleasing smile. Orthodontic treatment can improve not only the appearance of the teeth but also overall oral health and function.

Orthodontic Checkup
Dentist Review

Education and Training

Both orthodontists and dentists undergo extensive education and training to practice in their respective fields. However, there are differences in their educational paths.

Orthodontist Education

Orthodontists complete a dental degree (BDS) and then pursue an additional 3-5 years of specialised training in orthodontics. This specialised training focuses specifically on orthodontic diagnosis, treatment planning, and orthodontic techniques.

Dentist Education

Dentists also complete a dental degree (BDS) after undergraduate studies. Their dental education covers a broad range of oral health topics, including general dentistry, oral surgery, prosthodontics, periodontics, endodontics, and more.


Orthodontists specialise in orthodontic treatment, which includes:

  • Braces: Traditional metal braces, ceramic braces, and clear aligners.

  • Orthodontic appliances: Retainers, expanders, headgear, and more.

  • Bite correction: Addressing issues such as overbites, underbites, crossbites, and open bites.

  • Orthognathic surgery: Collaborating with oral surgeons for corrective jaw surgery.

  • At what age should my child start orthodontic treatment?
    The ideal age for an initial orthodontic evaluation is around seven years old. However, the specific timing of treatment will depend on your child's individual needs.
  • Will braces affect my child's daily activities?
    Braces may require some adjustments in eating habits and oral hygiene routines, but they should not significantly hinder your child's daily activities. Our team will provide detailed guidance to ensure a smooth transition.
  • How long does children's braces treatment take?
    The duration of treatment varies depending on the complexity of your child's case. On average, it can range from several months to a few years. Our orthodontic specialists will provide a more accurate estimate during the initial consultation.
  • Are children's braces painful?
    It is common to experience some discomfort or soreness after the initial placement or adjustment of braces. However, this discomfort is temporary and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • How do I help my child maintain good oral hygiene with braces?
    Our orthodontists will provide detailed instructions on proper oral hygiene practices with braces, including brushing techniques, flossing methods, and the use of orthodontic-friendly tools.
  • Can adults get braces?
    Yes, adults can certainly get braces. At Chelsea Family Orthodontics, we specialize in providing orthodontic treatments specifically designed for adults.
  • Are adult braces noticeable?
    The visibility of adult braces depends on the type you choose. Options like ceramic braces and Invisalign offer more discreet alternatives to traditional metal braces.
  • How long does adult braces treatment take?
    The duration of adult braces treatment varies depending on individual cases. On average, it can range from several months to a few years.
  • Do adult braces cause discomfort?
    Initially, you may experience some discomfort or soreness when adjusting to braces. However, this discomfort is temporary and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relief.
  • How much do adult braces cost?
    The cost of adult braces can vary depending on the type of braces and the complexity of your case. At Chelsea Family Orthodontics, we offer flexible payment plans to make orthodontic treatment accessible.

At SW3 Dental, we recognise the distinct roles of orthodontists and dentists in providing comprehensive dental care. Orthodontists specialise in tooth alignment and occlusion, while dentists focus on general oral health and a wide range of dental services. By understanding their roles, education, and services, you can make an informed decision when seeking professional dental care. Whether you require orthodontic treatment or general dental services, our team of skilled professionals is here to support you on your journey to a healthy and beautiful smile.

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