An orthodontist must first have a doctorate in general dentistry—just like your family dentist. What makes an orthodontist different from your general dentist is the training he or she receives after dental school.

An orthodontist receives two to three years of additional training in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment planning of malocclusion (or “bad bites”) and anomalies of jaw growth. Orthodontists limit their practice to orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. This means that orthodontics is all they do every day.

Many general dentists will do some orthodontic cases, but they do not have the additional training and expertise that an orthodontist can provide.