Ever wondered whether you should see a dentist or an orthodontist?  Well, you’re not alone. Many people are often confused about the difference between the two. Dr Zieg from Concelo provides us with some key information on Dentists VS Orthodontists.

Orthodontists and dentists both help patients improve their oral health, but in different ways. Dentistry is a broad medical specialty that deals mainly in restoring teeth damaged by tooth decay or trauma, replacing missing teeth and monitoring oral health to prevent tooth loss in old age, while orthodontics is a specialty within dentistry that focuses on creating a perfect smile by aligning teeth and treating incorrect bites (malocclusions). One important difference is that all orthodontists, like Dr Zieg, are dentists, but not all dentists are licensed and fully trained orthodontists.

The main similarity between a dentist and orthodontist is that they both focus on oral health care. They are both considered doctors, and deal with the teeth and gums.  However, there are more differences than similarities.  It is important to know the difference between these two to ensure you get the right advice and expertise when you need it.  Here are 2 key differences to know:

1. Education

A dentist studies for five-and-a half years before obtaining a general dentistry qualification. An orthodontist requires additional years of study as a dental specialty; this can be compared to a doctor who obtains additional schooling to become a surgeon. In South Africa, orthodontists study full time for at least four more years to obtain a post-graduate qualification at a recognised university.

2. Focus Areas
Orthodontists specialise in helping patients with the alignment of their teeth and improving their bite by corrective braces. Generally, patients with moderate to severe malalignment of teeth will be referred by a general dentist to an orthodontist for treatment because orthodontic correction is often a complex process. Dentists typically encourage good hygiene practices and help patients with oral maintenance services.

The following table provides an example of the different focus areas of dentists and orthodontists:




–        Bridges –        Overbite
–        Veneers –        Underbite
–        Tooth Decay –        Crowded Teeth
–        Root Canals –        Jaw alignment
–        Gum Disease –        Misaligned teeth
–        Crowns –        Crossbites
–         Whitening & Cleaning –        Gaps between teeth
–        Oral Infections –        treatment of temporomandibular disorders (TMD)

See, there are some very clear differences between a dentist and an orthodontist.  So, who should you see for advice about your smile? When it comes to orthodontic care, we recommend that patients see a specialist orthodontist.

Patients should absolutely continue to see their dentist for regular check-ups and cleaning throughout their orthodontic treatment. Both dentists and orthodontists play a valuable role in keeping your teeth healthy and looking good. They will always work together to achieve optimal results for you and your children.

Did you know that there are actually more specialities existing in the field of dentistry? Here is a list of the other important specialists to know:
Prosthodontists:  do complicated restorative work like multiple crowns and / or implants.
Periodontists:  focus purely on gums and the bone supporting the teeth.
Endodontists: do root canal fillings on teeth that have lost their vitality either due to extensive decay or trauma.
Maxillo-Facial surgeons: do reconstructive surgery to the jaws and complicated tooth removal like wisdom teeth.
Oral Pathologists: focuses mainly on cancers of the mouth and face.

Concelo, Invisible Braces by Dr Zieg have worked with over 15,000 smiles over 33 years and they continue to grow their network. Dr Zieg is a specialist orthodontist who is the orthodontist of choice to a large network of dentists around South Africa. Dr Zieg has a unique approach to making braces invisible and is celebrated for his outstanding service, passion and client centric business.

Find us at:
Sandton: 011 463 5294
Randburg: 011 886 2430
Stellenbosch: 021 880 1447

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