Dentist and Orthodontist: Spot the Difference

At Bowe Orthodontic Care in Birr, Offaly, we often hear questions about the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist. While both professionals are crucial for maintaining good oral health, their roles, training, and areas of expertise differ significantly. Understanding these differences can help you make informed decisions about your dental and orthodontic care.

Understanding the Roles

The Role of Your Dentist

Dentists, also known as general or family dentists, focus on overall oral health. They provide a range of services, including:

  • Preventive Care: Regular check-ups, cleanings, and advice on maintaining oral hygiene.
  • Restorative Treatments: Filling cavities, performing root canals, and extracting teeth.
  • Cosmetic Procedures: Applying crowns, veneers, and bonding to improve the appearance of teeth.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment of Oral Diseases: Detecting and treating issues such as gum disease and oral cancer.

Dentists play a vital role in maintaining your oral health and addressing common dental problems. However, some dental issues require specialised care beyond what a general dentist provides. This is where orthodontists come into play.

The Role of Your Orthodontist

Orthodontists are dental specialists who focus on diagnosing, preventing, and treating dental and facial irregularities. Their primary expertise lies in aligning teeth and jaws to ensure proper function and aesthetics. Services provided by orthodontists include:

  • Braces: Metal, ceramic, or clear aligners to straighten teeth.
  • Retainers: Devices to maintain teeth alignment after braces.
  • Jaw Correction: Treatments to address issues with jaw alignment and bite.
  • Orthodontic Appliances: Tools to correct developmental issues in the mouth and jaws.

Orthodontists undergo extensive training beyond dental school to become experts in these areas, ensuring they can provide the best care for complex dental alignment issues.

Education and Training


  • Complete a dental degree (Bachelor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Surgery).
  • Receive training in a broad range of dental procedures.
  • Licensed to practice general dentistry and provide basic orthodontic care in some cases.


  • Complete a dental degree followed by additional specialised training in orthodontics.
  • Undergo a residency program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, which involves 2-3 years of intensive study focused on tooth and jaw alignment.
  • Accumulate over 3,700 hours of specialised training.
  • Typically limit their practice to orthodontics, allowing them to concentrate on their specialty.

Scope of Practice


General dentists are licensed to perform a wide array of dental procedures. In some regions, they may also offer specialty services such as orthodontics, but without the extensive specialised training that orthodontists undergo. While a general dentist can manage many aspects of dental care, they refer patients to specialists, like orthodontists, for complex cases.


Orthodontists dedicate their practice to the movement and alignment of teeth and jaws. Their focused training enables them to handle intricate orthodontic issues that require in-depth knowledge and expertise. Orthodontists stay updated with the latest advancements in their field, ensuring they provide the most effective and efficient treatments.

Making the Right Choice for Your Care

When it comes to your oral health, choosing the right professional for your needs is crucial. For general dental care and preventive services, visiting your dentist regularly is essential. However, if you require specialised care for alignment issues or complex orthodontic treatment, an orthodontist is the best choice.

Orthodontists have the training, experience, and expertise to develop a customised treatment plan that addresses your specific needs. They ensure your teeth are not only straight but also function correctly, providing you with a healthy, beautiful smile.

At Bowe Orthodontic Care, our team is dedicated to providing top-notch orthodontic treatment tailored to each patient. If you have any questions or need orthodontic care, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help you achieve the best possible results for your smile and overall oral health.

We proudly serve Orthodontic patients across Birr and Tullamore in Offaly, as well as in nearby towns such as Portlaoise, Mountrath, Abbeyleix, Roscrea, and Nenagh

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