Orthodontist vs Dentist: Which Do You Need?

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 orthodontist vs dentist. 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.

Orthodontist vs Dentist: Which Do You Need?

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.

Meet One of Our Friends in the Dental Community

Orthodontists vs Dentists: How They 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.

Orthodontist vs Dentist: Which Do You Need?

Here’s a quick look at our credentials:


Orthodontist vs Dentist: Which Do You Need - Dr. Courtney Gorman



  • 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
Orthodontist vs Dentist: Which Do You Need - Dr. Jason Bunch



  • 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
Orthodontist vs Dentist: Which Do You Need - Dr. Carly Moran

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 — orthodontist vs dentist — we’d love to meet with you to discuss your questions at any of our Central Indiana offices in Marion, Kokomo, Carmel, Westfield, Zionsville, Fishers, and Wabash.


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  • review rating 5  This 64 year old had teeth that had begun to overlap in my adult years, which was attributed to having 4 good teeth removed as a child for "Crowded teeth". I waited to fund Invisalign until incurring no penalty for taking IRA funds, other than taxes. I was fortunate to be referred to Dr. Jason Bunch by my dentist, Dr. Jack Nicewander. Dr. Bunch and his Carmel, IN office staff see numerous children and young adults, but welcome the young at heart as well. I trust them and find them accommodating, efficient, professional and compassionate.

    thumb Joyce Eggleston

    review rating 5  Heather and Dr Carly were awesome! Friendly, informative, and professional. Office was very inviting. We had a great appointment and look forward to the next couple of years of working with them.

    thumb Andy Tebbe

    review rating 5  Amazing experience all around. The staff is super friendly and Dr. Carly always makes my daughter feel comfortable with the work being done. We are thrilled with the progress we are seeing, and the customer service is always top notch.

    thumb Alyssa Lozier

    review rating 5  Personal and professional, everyone always takes great care of my sensitive mouth teen! This is our first experience with needing orthodontia, when it’s time for my youngest to get braces, we’ll choose this place again in a heartbeat. From the team up front to the team in the back, everyone is so nice and yet so efficiently on task, it is quite impressive. They have reasonable pricing and are willing to help with a payment plan. Keep up the great work!!

    thumb Robert Cassidy
  • review rating 5  I love this office. The staff and Dr. Carly are great. I’m having amazing results with my program! I highly suggest it to any and everyone!

    thumb Mark Roberts

    review rating 5  I can’t say enough great things about this office. I am legal guardian of my sister and she is going through Invisalign with them… She’s almost done and I am amazed by the results. I also go there for continued orthodontic care because orthodontic retention is for life! So glad I have such great people to care for our teeth!!!

    thumb Veronica Boyle

    review rating 5  Amazing experience they all made my daughter and I feel very comfortable, all the ladies were extremely nice. Very well informed. Wouldn't go anywhere else!

    thumb Erica Wood

    review rating 5  Cannot say enough good things about this practice! I've been to Westfield and Carmel locations, both are beautiful with helpful and friendly staff. Dr Bunch is experienced, knowledgeable, and truly cares about his patients and strives to get the best results possible for each one!

    thumb Karen Caudle
  • review rating 5  Very great place! Went there for my first time today and i felt so comfortable and they are helping me fix my mouth!! Love love love!

    thumb Haley Elston

    review rating 5  Excellent every time we’ve brought our kids. Thorough evaluations, knowledgeable doctors/staff, great with kids, and great results

    thumb Stephanie

    review rating 5  We were very pleased with the staff and services at Gorman & Bunch. From the beginning, they were very friendly and made us feel comfortable with our first ortho visit. Dr. Carly was very nice and attentive. We ended up with braces for my son on the first visit and they were quick and thorough and made our experience very positive. Definitely would recommend them! They are awesome!

    thumb Donia Shackelford

    review rating 5  I just started my first week with the Invisalign. The staff has been extremely friendly and helpful through every step. Dr Carly’s initial evaluation of my case was extremely thorough and the options were explained in detail to help make an informed decision. They’ve certainly exceeded my expectation and from the looks of it, they do a great job with their younger patients as well!

    thumb Patrick May
  • review rating 5  Amazing office! My daughter was home from college and had an orthodontic emergency. She was not a previous patient. Dr Moran was kind enough to see her. The entire staff was amazing. I would never go anywhere else!

    thumb Sharon Hoover

    review rating 5  Love this office! Helpful, professional, and knowledgeable doctor and staff. Haven’t had 1 issue with them. They’ve got their routine down pat.

    thumb Courtney Amos

    review rating 5  Fantastic staff who put the person (and their teeth!) at the center of the experience. Child-friendly waiting areas. I've had nothing but good experiences over my nearly 10 years with Gorman and Bunch. Cannot recommend highly enough!

    thumb Pete Freeman