Orthodontist vs. Dentist: Who Should You See? By Kellyn Hodges on September 15, 2019

Smiling female face shows upper row of teeth with metal bracesIf you are searching for a qualified doctor who can administer orthodontic treatments to you or a loved one, there are many advantages to choosing an orthodontist. Dentists and orthodontists both help patients improve and maintain oral health. While dentists are trained broadly to treat teeth, gums, and jaw problems, orthodontists receive specialized training that allows them to focus on bite issues, occlusion, and teeth straightening. Simply put: All orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are licensed orthodontists.

Dr. Kellyn Hodges is a board-certified orthodontist in Philadelphia, PA. If you are seeking orthodontic treatments, we welcome you to contact our office to set up an appointment with Dr. Hodges or a member of our team.

How Do Orthodontists and Dentists Differ?

Orthodontists and dentists undergo the same initial training, but orthodontists undergo further training after graduation from dental school.

Dentists and orthodontists undergo an initial four years of undergraduate education before completing four years of dental school. To become a certified dentist, dental school graduates must pass a written and clinical licensing exam before they are allowed to practice. Dentists are either awarded a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine).

Once a graduate is awarded a DDS or DMD, he or she can begin practicing medicine immediately. Some dentists choose to pursue specialties, such as orthodontics. Approximately 6 percent of dentists are orthodontists. The specialized training to become an orthodontist requires a further two or three years of residency and more than 4,800 hours of orthodontic training.


The American Association of Orthodontists describes the role of orthodontists as one that specializes in aligning the jaws and moving the teeth. In practice, this can mean treating crowded teeth, gaps, and misaligned teeth.

Orthodontists are equipped to use special tools to help them realign teeth. These tools include braces, aligners, and other orthodontic appliances.

Dr. Hodges earned her Doctorate in Dental Medicine and Masters Degree in Orthodontics at Temple University, graduating Summa Cum Laude.


According to the American Association of Orthodontists, dentists monitor and maintain their patients' oral health through checkups, cleanings, and treatments. Dentists also perform cosmetic procedures to improve the appearance of teeth. If dentists come across a condition they are not qualified to treat, they will refer the patient to a dental specialist or physician.

When Should I See an Orthodontist?

If you are already working with a dentist in the Philadelphia area, he or she can help treat cavities and general dental problems. If you are planning or needing to undergo treatments that deal with jaw or tooth alignment, an orthodontist may be better equipped to oversee your orthodontic procedure. Throughout and after your orthodontic treatment, you will continue to see your dentist for general dentistry treatments, exams, and cleanings.

We offer the following orthodontic procedures:

  • Invisalign®
  • Traditional braces
  • Traditional orthodontics
  • Adult braces
  • Fast acting adult braces
  • Retainers
  • Wilckodontics
  • Bruxism Treatment

Schedule Your Orthodontic Treatment with a Qualified Orthodontist

We are proud to offer compassionate orthodontic treatment for patients throughout the Philadelphia area. For more information about our services, contact our practice online or call (215) 883-0611 or (215) 245-5100 today.

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Kellyn Hodges Orthodontics staff

Kellyn Hodges Orthodontics

At Kellyn Hodges Orthodontics, serving patients in Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, and throughout Philadelphia, we are committed to helping children and adults of all backgrounds achieve beautiful, healthy smiles. Our compassionate and widely respected doctors are members of prestigious dental organizations, including: 

  • American Association of Orthodontists
  • American Dental Association 
  • National Dental Association
  • National Board of Orthodontics, U. S. 

To reach our helpful, multilingual staff, call us at (610) 617-0700 or request a consultation online.

Contact Us Today

We love Kellyn Hodges! She listens to her patients and provides excellent care! Her staff is very friendly and helpful as well! Tara F.

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