A patient undergoing a procedure in a dentistryA great smile can change the world. Unfortunately, not all people are blessed with a perfect set of pearly whites to show off their stunning smiles.

It’s not a bad idea to get the help of a professional. But what kind of professional do you need? Most of us think a dentist and an orthodontist are the same, but these two are quite different from each other. Dentists need a special certification on Orthodontics. Boise may have different requirements from other cities too.

Here’s a quick primer on how to tell which is which and, more importantly, how to tell which one you need for your dental care.


Dentists and orthodontist must have a bachelor’s degree before applying for a doctoral program in a dental school. Different states may have different licensure procedures for these professionals. For example, Boise will have different requirements from Los Angeles, but these do not affect the services of a dentist. After dental school, a dentist will earn either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) title.

To become an orthodontist, a dentist must attend two to three years of a residency program approved by the American Dental Association. After this, they must be certified by the American Board of Orthodontics before they can add a Master of Science (MS) tag to their DDS or DMD.


A dentist is your first dental go-to person for basic dental needs. They can diagnose and treat dental related issues. They can also call for routine procedures like x-rays when it is needed. Additionally, dentists are the primary providers for gum care, fillings, cleanings, and even root canals.

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An orthodontist can perform most of the routine care that dentists provide, but they are more specialized when it comes to dental correction. They can recommend treatments that use non-surgical procedures to correct overbite, underbite, or overcrowded teeth. These issues are called “malocclusions”, and orthodontists make use of wires, braces, and other devices for correction.

Knowing the difference between these two professionals can be helpful especially when you’re deciding on where to go for your dental care. After all, you want the best dental care you can afford.