Orthodontist vs. General Dentist

An orthodontist is a dentist who has taken several years of extra training beyond the basic dental degree. Here is what the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) says: “It takes many years to become an orthodontist. As in medicine, the educational requirements are demanding.”

First, an orthodontist must complete college. Next, he must complete a three- to four-year graduate program at a dental school in a university or other institution accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA). Finally, there are at least two or three years of advanced specialty education in an ADA accredited orthodontic residency program. The program is difficult. It includes advanced knowledge in biomedical, behavioral and basic sciences. The orthodontic resident learns the complex skills required to both manage tooth movement (orthodontics) and guide facial development (dentofacial orthopedics).

Only dentists who have successfully completed this advanced specialty education may call themselves “orthodontists.”