Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Raquel from Frederick, MD. Raquel Wonders, “What is the difference between a dentist and orthodontist?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Raquel!

Do you like to help others? If so, maybe you dream of becoming a teacher or a firefighter. Perhaps you’d rather be a doctor or a cosmetologist. Or you may love to work in oral health. If so, you might like one of the careers we’re talking about today!

Have you ever been to the dentist or orthodontist? If so, you know they both help people take care of their teeth. Regular dental checkups keep people healthy. After all, how could we enjoy nutritious foods without our teeth? Everyone needs to see a dentist from time to time. But the same can’t be said for the orthodontist. Why not? What’s the difference between these two doctors?

A dentist is a primary dental care provider. Your dentist oversees your overall oral health. They do regular checkups and diagnose problems. They also treat issues such as cavities. People might see a dentist for fillings, crowns, veneers, bridges, and root canals.

How does someone become a dentist? First, they graduate high school and go to college. There, they earn an undergraduate degree, such as a B.S. (Bachelor of Science). After college, they attend four years of dental school. At the end, they’ll have either a D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or D.M.D. (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree. These degrees are the same—the name just varies from school to school.

How about orthodontists? They are oral healthcare specialists who deal primarily with the treatment of crooked teeth and malocclusions, or “bad bites.” These usually result from crowded, missing or extra teeth, or misaligned jaws.

Orthodontists straighten teeth and treat “bad bites” in a number of ways. They may use braces, retainers, wires, and bands. These devices move the teeth through your jaw bones to help align them.

How can one become an orthodontist? They also earn an undergraduate degree and then go to dental school. Thus, all orthodontists are dentists. But not all dentists are orthodontists. To become an orthodontist, you must receive special training. This includes a two- or three-year residency in orthodontics.

Whether you want to become a dentist or an orthodontist, you have plenty of education to look forward to. Most dentists spend eight years in post-secondary education, while most orthodontists spend 10-11 years. And for good reason! These doctors need plenty of training to help people stay healthy.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.3, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day takes a look at an amazing switcheroo!