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bigstock-131635712Dentists and orthodontists in Grand Rapids, MI, have their similarities and differences. The main difference is orthodontists are more specialized. However, both dentists and orthodontists focus on oral care for children and adults alike, although some may make the distinction that they specialize in pediatric dentistry or orthodontics.

Dentists and orthodontists both work to help you improve your oral care and correct certain issues with your teeth. One of the most important differences, though, is that all Grand Rapids, MI, orthodontists, like Dr. Karl, are dentists, but not all dentists are licensed to practice orthodontia. Orthodontics is a specialty within dentistry, while dentistry is a broad medical specialty focusing on your teeth, gums, and nerves.


A dentist does more generalized work on teeth than an orthodontist. Typically, your dentist can help you with things like tooth decay, fillings, root canals, whitening, gum disease, and veneers. If you have bite, alignment, or jaw issues, your dentist will typically refer you to Dr. Karl, Grand Rapids's favorite orthodontist, for a smile analysis.

Educational requirements: A dentist must typically complete eight years of higher education before he or she can practice dentistry.


Orthodontists are different from dentists for several reasons. First, your orthodontist in Grand Rapids undergoes additional schooling for his or her specialty. This is comparable to a doctor who goes through additional schooling to become a surgeon or other specialist. Your orthodontist can help you with concerns involving overcrowding, overbites, underbites, misaligned teeth, crossbites, and other issues involving your teeth that need to be corrected with braces or orthodontics.

Essentially, orthodontists are dentists who specialize in correcting specific issues in the mouth. Your orthodontist in Grand Rapids, MI, can help you with a number of things and has the required additional training to do so.

Educational requirements: An orthodontist must complete 10 to 11 years of higher education to specialize in orthodontic care.

Which One Do You Need?

If you’re uncertain about whether you or your child needs to see a dentist or an orthodontist in the Grand Rapids area, the typical place to begin would be to ask your dentist. If you suspect that you or your child may need braces or orthodontic treatment, don’t hesitate to bring it up at your next dental visit. Your dentist can inform you whether braces or another type of orthodontic treatment might be necessary and refer you to an orthodontist in Grand Rapids, MI, or another town closest to you.

If you’re searching for your own orthodontist in MI and don’t necessarily want to go by a referral, you may choose to research orthodontic offices in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area.

No matter your situation, Dr. Karl and his orthodontics team near Grand Rapids are here to help! Whether you’re actively seeking braces or orthodontic treatment for yourself or your child, or whether you are simply exploring your options, we strive to provide the very best in orthodontic treatment. When you're ready to learn about the treatment options that are best for you, click here to schedule your Karl Smile Analysis!

This information is not meant as medical advice. It is provided solely for education. Our Grand Rapids, Michigan, orthodontics office would be pleased to discuss your unique circumstances and needs as they relate to these topics.

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