Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Raquel from Frederick, MD. Raquel Wonders, “What is the difference between a dentist and orthodontist?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Raquel!

What do you want to be when you grow up? That's a question a lot of kids get asked from time to time. The answer usually varies with age, interests, and life experiences. Some kids may want to become a teacher or a fireman. Others may want to become a lawyer or a doctor.

If becoming a professional who helps people appeals to you, then something in the medical field may suit you. Sometimes people choose careers based upon a particular area of the body they want to work with. For example, if you really like feet, then becoming a podiatrist might be a good choice for you.

What if you like teeth? Thanks to our teeth, we can enjoy all sorts of delicious foods. Keeping them healthy is important for not only our teeth, but also our general health. If you like teeth, you could think about becoming a dentist or an orthodontist.

Everyone goes to the dentist from time to time for check-ups and problems with teeth. If you have a friend who has braces, she may talk about going to the orthodontist. Exactly what's the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?

A dentist is a primary dental care provider. Your dentist oversees your overall oral health. In addition to regular check-ups, dentists diagnose and treat problems, such as cavities. Dentists also perform a variety of procedures, including fillings, crowns, veneers, bridge, and root canals.

To become a dentist, you need to go to college to earn an undergraduate degree, such as a B.S. (Bachelor of Science). After college, four years of specialized training in dental school is required to earn either a D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or D.M.D. (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree. The degrees are the same. It's just the name that varies from school to school.

Orthodontists, on the other hand, are oral healthcare specialists who deal primarily with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of crooked teeth and malocclusions. Malocclusions or "bad bites" usually result from crowded, missing, or extra teeth or misaligned jaws.

Orthodontists straighten teeth and treat malocclusions using a variety of dental appliances. Common dental appliances used by orthodontists include braces, retainers, wires, and bands. These devices move the teeth through your jaw bones, aligning them as necessary to eliminate malocclusions.

Orthodontists must get an undergraduate degree and go to dental school. Thus, all orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists. To become an orthodontist, you must receive additional special training by serving a two- or three-year residency in orthodontics in a university-affiliated program that has been approved by the American Dental Association.

Whether you want to become a dentist or an orthodontist, you have plenty of education to look forward to. Most dentists spend eight years in post-secondary education, while most orthodontists spend 10-11 years.

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day takes a look at an amazing switcheroo!