1S443 Summit Ave, Ste 307 | Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181 (630) 620-8300 dr.noto@gallerydentalofoakbrook.com

Orthodontists and dentists are both highly-trained and qualified dental professionals. However, there are a few key differences that set them apart. Understanding the differences between the two can help you refine your search for general dentistry or orthodontia in your area.

Whether you want to schedule a routine exam or explore your restorative and cosmetic options, Dr. Peter L. Noto at Gallery Dental of Oakbrook is here to help. Give our team a call at (630) 620-8300, or contact us here to schedule a dental appointment in Oakbrook Terrace, IL.

If you’re on the hunt for a skilled dental professional, then you’ll need to know the differences between orthodontists and dentists. Here, we tell you the main differences so that you can choose the best option for you.

What do dentists do?

Dentists have extensive training in general dentistry. This means that they must successfully:

  • Complete an undergraduate degree in science, biology, pre-dentistry, or pre-medical training
  • Attend a four-year graduate school to earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) after passing a Dental Admissions Test
  • Pass the licensing exam before practicing in their state

Once dentists accomplish this, then they may practice freely in the states for which they have licensure

Common services that qualified dentists may provide include:

  • Performing oral surgery
  • Extracting teeth
  • Repairing dental damage
  • Removing and filling cavities
  • Treating gum disease
  • Performing root canal therapy
  • Taking and interpreting dental x-rays
  • Conducting oral cancer screenings
  • Straightening mild to moderate dental misalignments 
  • Providing cosmetic treatments, like teeth whitening

Currently, experts estimate that roughly 200,000 general dentists are currently practicing in the United States.

What do orthodontists do?

Orthodontists follow a similar academic path to general dentists for the first eight years of their training. After that, they attend approximately three years of specialized training to help them diagnose and remediate misaligned teeth and jaws. 

Common services that orthodontists may provide include:

  • Diagnosing and fixing mild to severe dental or jaw misalignments
  • Monitoring orofacial and dental development in children 
  • Performing some oral surgeries
  • Installing, planning, and tracking orthodontia, like braces, retainers, headgear, Herbst appliances, and palatal expanders

Data suggest that there are far fewer orthodontists practicing in the United States, with just over 87,000 reported in 2022.

Which is right for me?

Typically, a general dentist is a better choice for patients who want to receive routine dental treatments, like:

  • Dental exams
  • Dental x-rays
  • Oral cancer screenings
  • Prophylactic cleanings
  • Cavity removal
  • Dental restorations
  • Cosmetic procedures, including Invisalign®


Alternatively, an orthodontist may be ideal for specialized treatments that target the teeth and jaws, like:

  • Braces, including clear braces and lingual braces
  • Retainers
  • Lip and cheek bumpers
  • Palatal expanders
  • Malocclusion and spacing remediation

Ultimately, choosing the right doctor depends on what oral-health needs you want to address

At Gallery Dental of Oakbrook, Dr. Noto has experience and training in providing general dentistry treatments and select orthodontic treatments. This means that you don’t have to choose between Dr. Noto and another provider–you can get everything you need in one, convenient location!

Schedule an Orthodontic Consultation in Oakbrook Terrace, IL

Are you ready to straighten your smile for improved aesthetics and health? Contact the team at Gallery Dental of Oakbrook here, or call us at (630) 620-8300 to schedule your consultation now!