What’s the difference between a Dentist and an Orthodontist?

All Orthodontists train first as a Dentist. After completing their dental degree they have gone back to university for three years full-time orthodontic study to become a registered Specialist Orthodontist.

This training covers all types of orthodontic diagnosis and treatments, giving a deep understanding of all that is needed for safe orthodontic advice and treatment.  


  • Orthodontists are registered Dental Specialists who have also completed an additional three years of full-time university training in orthodontics, facial growth and development, biology and biomechanics. They hold a General Dental Degree and a Specialist Orthodontic Degree.
  • Orthodontists diagnose and treat crooked teeth, bad bites and poorly aligned jaws.
  • Orthodontists are experts in all orthodontic treatment options and technologies for children, teens and adults.


  • Similar to your family GP medical doctor, Dentists are general practitioners who can diagnose and treat problems and common diseases that affect your teeth, mouth and gums. Dentists complete a General Dental Degree.
  • Dentists are experts in general dental care. They perform cosmetic dental procedures such as tooth whitening, porcelain veneers and crowns.
  • Dentists are not trained in fitting braces or managing other orthodontic treatments. While some dentists may offer “orthodontic treatments” like Invisalign, they lack the kind of rigorous testing and examinations needed to truly cover all potential issues in depth So most will refer patients requiring orthodontic treatment to specialist orthodontists.

Only a Specialist Orthodontist has the experience and knowledge to deliver safe and effective orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists dedicate their lives to continuously updating their knowledge in the field of orthodontics. This is why seeing a NZ registered specialist orthodontist for your orthodontic treatment will ensure you can have real confidence in the level of care you will receive.

Orthodontics is what they do best. In fact, it’s what they do all day, every day.

To find a registered Orthodontist in New Zealand, use our Orthodontist search tool.