Do You Need a Dentist or an Orthodontist?

November 4, 2016
J. Courtney Gorman, DDS, MS



Why do orthodontists make great astronauts? Because they took up space in school.

Yuck, yuck, yuck! As orthodontists, we’ve all heard many a joke on the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist. But it’s all in good fun! We love our friends in the dental community, and it’s true—we did spend many years in dental school together.

But it’s also true that we’re in very different professions. And so you may need one particular practitioner instead of the other to best care for you and your family’s teeth.

Let’s explore when and why you and your children may need a dentist or an orthodontist.

How Dentists and Orthodontists Compare

At Gorman & Bunch Orthodontics, we like to tell our patients that orthodontists are licensed dentists, but not all dentists are licensed orthodontists.

Just like our friends in the dental community, all three Gorman & Bunch orthodontists first received bachelor’s degrees before applying to an accredited dental school. After successfully completing four years in that program, we then all received our doctorate degrees—either D.M.D. (doctor of dental medicine) or D.D.S (doctor of dental surgery).

At that point, our roads diverged from dentists. They began practicing in their fields, while we applied for orthodontics residencies at a program approved by the American Dental Association. After 2-3 successful years there, we then received our Masters of Science in Orthodontics, giving us the “M.S.” tag in our titles.

Here’s a quick look at our credentials:





  • Bachelor of Science degree in Pre-Dentistry (Summa Cum Laude) — Ball State University
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery — Indiana University School of Dentistry
  • Masters of Science Degree in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics — Indiana University School of Dentistry



  • Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry (Cum Laude) — University of Notre Dame
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree — Indiana University School of Dentistry
  • Masters of Science in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics — University of Michigan
  • Board Certified Orthodontist

Why We Want You to Work With the Best Dentists

As we said before, we love our friends in the dental community, as we all share the same passion for overall oral health.

By visiting your general dentist twice a year, you and your family can receive preventative or restorative care, such as dental examinations, professional cleanings, X-rays, and more. General dentists can offer many broad oral treatments for your teeth, gums, and jaws, such as:

  • Cavity Fillings
  • Tooth Removal
  • Dental Implants
  • Crowns
  • Veneers
  • Bridges
  • Deep Cleanings
  • Teeth Whitening
  • Dentures
  • Cosmetic Dentistry

We’re grateful for how this community prepares and sustains the path to a healthy smile.

The Right Time to Choose an Orthodontist

Since both dentists and orthodontists received their D.D.S. or D.M.D. degrees, you may wonder why we, as orthodontists, don’t just offer all of the above services in our practice? It’s a fair question.

Truth be told, we do provide some of these general dentistry services when needed. But overall, we believe the specialized services we offer our patients demand our devoted attention. And so we choose to build on the solid foundation set by our friends in the dental field, and then take your oral health to the next level by transforming your smile.

To that end, we focus on fixing improperly aligned teeth and jaws that may cause issues with eating, speaking, or physical health by using various non-surgical procedures to:

  • Correct malocclusions (overbites, underbites, crossbites)
  • Shift crowded and protruding teeth
  • Align upper and lower jaws
  • Treat temporomandibular disorders
  • Affix wires, braces, retainers, and other appliances
  • Design Invisalign treatment

And while a small number of dentists do offer some of the above services, we believe that—because of the amount of training and ongoing hands-on experience—it’s best for you to see only an orthodontist in treating any and all of the above dental concerns.

If you’re still unsure who you or your children should see for your oral needs, we’d love to meet with you to discuss your questions at any of our Central Indiana offices in Marion, Kokomo, Carmel, Westfield and Wabash.

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