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What does an Orthodontist do?

An orthodontist showing a patient her digital scan

An orthodontist is a dentist who has received specialty training in the field of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. Orthodontists are qualified to diagnose prevent, and treat dental and jaw imbalances.

Are Orthodontists also Dentists?

All orthodontists are dentists, but few dentists have gone to specialty training to become certified orthodontists. While dentists receive some general instruction about orthodontics in dental school, it is minimal. Some dentists perform orthodontics with braces and aligners in their offices. However, the only doctors or dentists who can call themselves "orthodontists" have completed the additional two to three years of education in an accredited orthodontic residency program.

What do Orthodontists treat?

Orthodontists treat and prevent dental and facial irregularities. These problems may include crowding, spacing, impacted teeth, overjet, overbite, underbite, and mismatched jaws. Every patient is unique. Orthodontists perform an evaluation to create a personalized treatment plan for each and every patient. They are trained to correct dental and orthodontic problems using different methods and techniques. Appliances often include metal and clear braces, clear dental aligners, and a range of bite correctors. Orthodontists are uniquely qualified to recommend the most appropriate way to correct each problem.

How do you become an Orthodontist?

There are three main steps in an orthodontist's education: college, dental school, and orthodontic residency. Dental school programs are typically 3 to 4 years, and accredited residency programs are another 2 to 3 years. Some residency programs offer a master's degree in addition to a certificate of orthodontics.

Do Orthodontists treat adults?

Yes! Orthodontists are trained to treat all ages. The majority of orthodontists treat kids, teens, and adults, unless they have devoted their practice to only treating children and adolescents.

Are all Orthodontists board-certified?

No. In the United States, board certification is voluntary, and only some orthodontists pursue the extra steps to become board-certified by the American Board of Orthodontics (ABO).

How do I find a good Orthodontist?

  1. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) has a locator tool to help you find an orthodontist:

  2. Check the ABO's locator to find a Board Certified Orthodontist:

  3. Ask for recommendations. Consider asking friends, family, your general or pediatric dentist, or oral surgeon for a recommendation for an orthodontist.

  4. Check reviews of different offices to read experiences and to ensure it is a practice specific to orthodontics.


When you choose an orthodontist for braces or Invisalign treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a specialist who possesses skills and experience to give you or your child the best smile!


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