What is an orthodontist and a dentist, including the difference between them and their specialties?
Dentists are a subset of medical doctors who have been specially trained to work with the mouth, particularly the teeth and gums. All dentists can clean and repair teeth, prescribe medications as necessary for oral health, and screen for and treat various diseases of the mouth and gums.
An orthodontist is a dentist who has had additional special training centering on the bite, or occlusion, which is the way the upper and lower teeth meet. Orthodontists are qualified to use orthodontic appliances such as braces to move and realign teeth to correct a malocclusion. Some orthodontists work exclusively with the teeth, while others work by modifying and guiding the growth and development of the facial bones themselves. This can be done by splitting or removing sections of bone or by prescribing appliances to be worn to direct the bone development while the child is growing.