An Orthodontist is a Dentist who has an advanced degree in the science of correcting bites, preventing bite problems, and straightening and aligning the teeth. It takes about 10 years to become an Orthodontist: four years to earn a bachelor’s degree, another four years of dental school to earn a dental degree (DDS or DDM), and then two or three more years in a postgraduate program to earn a master’s degree (MSD) in orthodontics.
In the United States, the American Association of Orthodontics accredits schools that offer orthodontics advanced degree programs. Before an orthodontist can practice, they must pass the American Board of Orthodontics certification exam.
Some Dentists take extra coursework to learn how to use aligners and correct minor bite problems, but in most cases they don’t have the same level of training as Orthodontists.
Patients often ask, “which is better, a Dentist or an Orthodontist?” If your orthodontic problem is minor, and your Dentist has a lot of experience with simple cases, then your Dentist might be a good choice. But if your orthodontic problem is complicated or might entail jaw surgery or extractions, it is best to do treatment with an Orthodontist to ensure that you get the best care.