Is There a Special Dentist for Braces?

General Dentist

Understanding the world of dental care, especially when it comes to braces, often leads to one pivotal question: Is there a special dentist for braces? The answer is both simple and complex, revealing a fascinating facet of dental specialization that goes beyond the basic care we’re accustomed to.

This blog will delve into the roles and expertise of dental professionals who specialize in braces, distinguishing between a general dentist and an orthodontist, and shedding light on the question, “What exactly is a dentist for braces called?”

Understanding Orthodontics

Orthodontics is more than just about achieving a visually pleasing alignment of the teeth; it’s a comprehensive approach to oral health that addresses functional issues, ensuring that your bite, jaw alignment, and overall dental health are in harmony. But who specializes in this critical field? The answer lies in understanding the core of orthodontic care and the professionals dedicated to it.

  • Orthodontics Defined: Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry focused on diagnosing, preventing, and treating malpositions of the teeth and jaws. It’s an area that not only improves oral function but also enhances aesthetic appeal, contributing significantly to patients’ confidence and quality of life.
  • The Specialist: The dentist for braces is called an “orthodontist,” a term that signifies their specialized training in correcting dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists are the professionals you turn to when braces or other orthodontic interventions are recommended.

The Role of an Orthodontist

Orthodontists are dentists who’ve taken a step further into the specialization of orthodontic treatment. Their journey beyond dental school into rigorous orthodontic programs equips them with the skills and knowledge to manage complex dental issues, making them the go-to experts for braces.

 Consultation with Orthodontist
Consultation with Orthodontist

Education and Training

Becoming an orthodontist is no small feat. It requires additional years of education beyond the general dentistry degree:

  • Dental School: Like all dentists, orthodontists start their journey in dental school, learning the basics of oral health care.
  • Orthodontic Residency: After earning their dental degree, they must complete an accredited orthodontic residency program, which typically lasts 2-3 years. This program focuses intensely on the specialized skills needed for orthodontic care, including the management of tooth movement and guiding facial development.

Certification and Licensure

To practice, orthodontists must also obtain certification and licensure in their field:

  • Board Certification: Many orthodontists choose to become board-certified by passing rigorous exams administered by the American Board of Orthodontics. This certification is a testament to their expertise and commitment to excellence in orthodontics.
  • State Licensure: Like all dental professionals, orthodontists must be licensed in the state where they practice, ensuring they meet the specific requirements and standards set forth by state dental boards.

General Dentist vs. Orthodontist for Braces

The confusion of orthodontist vs. dentist for braces is a common one among patients considering orthodontic treatment. While both can contribute to your oral health care, understanding the differences between the two can help you make an informed decision about who should oversee your or your child’s orthodontic treatment.

  • General Dentists: Often the first line of defense in dental health, general dentists provide a wide range of services, from cleanings and fillings to some minor orthodontic work. Many general dentists can offer basic orthodontic care, such as minor teeth alignment, especially if they’ve pursued additional training in orthodontics. However, their broad focus on overall dental health means they might not have the same level of specialized training as orthodontists.
  • Orthodontists: Specialists in the field, orthodontists dedicate their practice solely to orthodontic treatment. They have extensive training in moving teeth, correcting misaligned jaws, and ensuring optimal function and aesthetics. Their specialized education allows them to tackle complex orthodontic issues that go beyond the scope of general dentistry.
 Dental Assesment
Dental Assesment

When to See an Orthodontist

Choosing between a general dentist and an orthodontist for braces comes down to the complexity of the dental issue at hand. Here are a few scenarios where seeking an orthodontist’s expertise is advisable:

  • Complex Cases: If the dental misalignment is severe or involves the jaw, an orthodontist’s specialized skills are necessary.
  • Comprehensive Treatment Planning: Orthodontists can provide a detailed treatment plan that addresses both immediate alignment issues and long-term oral health, ensuring that the results are as functional as they are aesthetically pleasing.
  • Advanced Treatment Options: For patients considering advanced orthodontic options like clear aligners, lingual braces, or other newer technologies, orthodontists are best equipped to offer these treatments effectively.

Choosing the Right Provider for Braces

When it comes to selecting the right dental care provider for your braces, the decision should be made with care and consideration. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Expertise and Experience: Look for a provider with a proven track record in orthodontics. Orthodontists should have a portfolio or case studies showcasing their work.
  • Consultation: Schedule consultations with potential orthodontists to discuss your needs, ask questions, and understand their approach to treatment. This is also a good opportunity to evaluate their communication skills and bedside manner.
  • Reviews and Recommendations: Seek out reviews and ask for recommendations from friends or family. Patient testimonials can provide insight into their experiences with the orthodontist.
  • Office Environment and Staff: Consider the office environment and the demeanor of the staff. A supportive and friendly team can make the treatment process more comfortable.

The Orthodontic Treatment Process

 Treatment Process
Treatment Process

Understanding what to expect during the orthodontic treatment process can help alleviate any concerns or anxiety you might have about getting braces. Here’s a general overview:

  • Initial Consultation: This first step involves a thorough examination of your teeth, discussion of your dental history, and possibly X-rays or digital scans. This helps the orthodontist develop a customized treatment plan.
  • Application of Braces: The process of applying braces typically takes one to two hours. Your orthodontist will attach brackets to your teeth, connect them with wires, and make any necessary adjustments.
  • Regular Adjustments: You’ll have scheduled visits for adjustments to your braces, usually every 4-8 weeks. These appointments are crucial for progressing your treatment.
  • Aftercare: Once your braces are removed, retainers are often necessary to maintain the new position of your teeth. Your orthodontist will provide instructions on how to care for your retainers and your teeth.

Modern Advances in Orthodontic Treatments

Orthodontic treatment has evolved significantly, with new technologies and materials making the process more comfortable and efficient than ever before:

  • >Clear Aligners: An alternative to traditional braces, clear aligners are virtually invisible and can be removed for eating and brushing. They’re designed using 3D imaging technology to gradually move your teeth into the desired position
  • >Lingual Braces: Attached to the back of your teeth, lingual braces are completely hidden from view. They offer a cosmetic solution for those concerned about the appearance of braces.
  • >Digital Planning Tools: Advanced imaging and planning software allow orthodontists to create a detailed treatment plan and predict outcomes more accurately, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of treatment.

The Importance of Personalized Care

Orthodontic treatment is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The importance of personalized care in achieving the best possible outcomes cannot be overstated:

  • Customized Treatment Plans: Your orthodontist should take into account not only your dental alignment issues but also your lifestyle, preferences, and any underlying oral health concerns.
  • Patient Education: Understanding your role in the treatment process, including how to care for your braces and the importance of follow-up appointments, is crucial for success.
  • Ongoing Support: Choose an orthodontist who provides ongoing support and is available to address any concerns or emergencies that may arise during your treatment.


Orthodontic care is a specialized field that requires a significant amount of training and expertise, particularly when it comes to braces. Understanding the difference between a general dentist and an orthodontist, and knowing when to consult each, can make a substantial difference in your orthodontic care experience. By choosing the right provider and understanding the treatment process, you can ensure that your journey to a perfect smile is as smooth and effective as possible.


1. Can a general dentist provide the same orthodontic treatment as an orthodontist?

While some general dentists offer basic orthodontic services, orthodontists specialize in this field with years of additional training, making them better suited for complex cases and a wide range of treatment options.

2. How long does orthodontic treatment usually take?

The duration of orthodontic treatment varies depending on the complexity of the case, the type of braces used, and the patient’s adherence to care instructions. On average, treatment can last between 18 to 24 months.

3. Are there age restrictions for getting braces?

There are no age restrictions for orthodontic treatment. Braces and other orthodontic procedures can be effective for both children and adults, as long as the teeth and gums are healthy.

4. How often do I need to visit an orthodontist during treatment?

Visits are typically scheduled every 4 to 8 weeks to adjust the braces and monitor progress. However, the frequency can vary based on the specifics of your treatment plan.


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