The Difference Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist

Ever found yourself pondering the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist? You’re not alone! Dr.Grubaugh is the resident smile-smith in Lansing and DeWitt. Our Grubaugh Orthodontics team often hears this question from curious patients. In this blog, our team will unravel the mystery and explore what separates orthodontists and dentists. 

Meet the Orthodontist

Have you ever seen someone with those shiny braces or crystal-clear aligners? That’s the orthodontist’s artwork! Dr. Grubaugh specializes in the field of orthodontics. Orthodontics refers to making sure your teeth and jaws are aligned the way they should be. Orthodontists are dentists first. However, not all dentists are orthodontists. 

Now, becoming an orthodontist isn’t a walk in the park. After finishing dental school, Dr. Grubaugh embarked on a two to three-year specialized adventure in orthodontics. That’s right, more school! But all that learning and training have a purpose: to make sure he’s the best at realigning teeth and jaws.

Orthodontists like Dr. Grubaugh don’t just focus on the here and now. They look at the big picture, planning how your teeth will live happily ever after. Whether it’s braces, retainers, or other orthodontic appliances, they’re all about getting everything in the right place.

And here’s a fun tidbit: orthodontists aren’t just for kids! Teens and adults can join us, too. Dr. Grubaugh has helped people of all ages flash their best smiles.

Say Hello to the Dentist

Dentists are on the front lines of taking care of teeth. They swoop in for regular cleanings, fill cavities, and even perform some dental magic of their own. Need a crown or a bridge? The dentist has got you covered!

Becoming a dentist is no small feat either. After college, it takes about four years of dental school to earn the right to wear that dentist’s white coat. It’s a big commitment but leads to a rewarding career filled with smiles.

What’s a visit to the dentist like? Think of it as a spa day for your teeth. They’ll get cleaned, polished, and checked for any signs of trouble. And the best part? You leave with a fresh, clean feeling that makes you want to smile all day.

Dentists are also great detectives, spotting problems before they become big issues. They’ll monitor your gums, check for signs of wear and tear, and ensure everything’s in tip-top shape.

The Difference Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist

Five Friendly Face-offs

In what other ways are dentists and orthodontists different? After all, orthodontists are dentists, too. So why do they have different names? Let’s examine the differences in specialization, tools, education, treatments, and office visits. 


Orthodontists are like alignment artists. They focus on straightening teeth and fixing jaw alignment. Our awesome team at Grubaugh Orthodontics is about making teeth line up just right. On the other hand, dentists are the jack-of-all-trades in dental care, looking after everything from cleanings to cavities. Two pros, two specialties!


Orthodontists and dentists have different tools at their disposal. Orthodontists use braces, retainers, and aligners to create picture-perfect smiles. Dentists might use drills, fillings, and crowns to keep teeth healthy and strong. It’s like comparing paintbrushes to sculpting tools; each has its unique purpose!


Both orthodontists and dentists start in dental school, but orthodontists take a detour for two to three more years of specialized training. It’s like going to Smile University! Dentists complete dental school and then dive right into general practice. Both paths lead to incredible careers, but they take different scenic routes.


Orthodontists are the go-to pros for braces, Invisalign, and jaw alignment. Think of them as the architects of your smile. Dentists are the everyday heroes, fighting cavities, gum disease, and more. They’re the ones keeping your teeth happy day in and day out. Different treatments, same goal: a stellar, stunning smile!


Because orthodontists like Dr. Grubaugh are specialists, you’ll see them over a longer period of time. At our practice, our team will observe your current treatment (braces or Invisalign, for example). We’ll see how your teeth and jaw are responding. We’ll also make any necessary changes, like tightening your braces. With a dentist, you’ll keep regular check-ups. But you’ll see a dentist for general overall oral health. 


Who You Gonna Call?

Should you see an orthodontist or a dentist? How can you tell? Don’t fret; we’ve got the answers!

Do you need a routine checkup? Maybe you haven’t let a professional look at your teeth in a bit? Or are you afraid you might have a cavity? Perhaps you need a crown. Then, you need to see a dentist. 

But what if your problem is a little more severe? Let’s say you’re feeling some pain in your jaw. On closer inspection, you see some of your teeth crowding together. Or, maybe your teeth are too far apart. That’s when you schedule an appointment with our team at Grubaugh Orthodontics. Plus, you might get referred to us by a dentist. 

Think of it like visiting a bookstore. Do you need a specific novel on smile alignment? Head to the orthodontist’s aisle. Looking for a general overview of all things teeth? The dentist’s section has you covered.

And remember, orthodontists and dentists are on the same team, working hand in hand to make your smile shine. So whether it’s a wiggly tooth or a regular tune-up, there’s a dental pro ready to welcome you with open arms. At Grubaugh Orthodontics, we’re all about making dental care as easy as pie (just make sure you brush really well afterward)! 

The Difference Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist

Schedule An Appointment At Grubaugh Orthodontics

Grubaugh Orthodontics proudly serves patients from all over Lansing and DeWitt. Visit us here to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Grubaugh.