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What Is an Orthodontist and How to Become One

What Do Orthodontists Do?

An Orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in the alignment of the teeth and jaws. Orthodontists diagnose, prevent, and treat overbites, underbites, gaps or overcrowded teeth with wires, braces, retainers, and other corrective appliances to ensure the health of the teeth and mouth muscles of their patients. The overall goal of the position is to improve the bite of the patient, allowing them to eat, chew, and speak

How to Become an Orthodontist

The career path to becoming an Orthodontist involves obtaining the right education and experience, which often means earning a doctoral or professional degree. You need to earn a bachelor's degree and then pass the Dental Admission Test (DAT) before you're able to apply for dental school. Afterward, if you're accepted, you'll complete dental school and a residency program, which may also involve an externship. After you've graduated from dental school and completed your residency program, you'll need to pass the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE), as well as obtain a license to practice orthodontics as a specialty, in order to become an Orthodontist in your state. Your state may also require a special state-level exam for you to be fully qualified to practice.

What Do Orthodontists Do on a Daily Basis?

An Orthodontist examines a patient’s teeth, jaws, and facial muscles and diagnoses problems that may be causing the patient pain or discomfort. Some patients do not have pain, but an Orthodontist will be able to detect future problems using x-rays and plaster molds, and may apply braces to correct and straighten tooth alignment or improve a patient’s bite. An Orthodontist will work with a team of Orthodontic technicians and assistants to help improve a patient’s smile.

Can an Orthodontist Do General Dentistry?

Orthodontists have the same education as those practicing general dentistry, but they have spent extra time specializing in their field. To become an Orthodontist, a Dentist must complete an orthodontics residency at an American Dental Association approved, university-affiliated program and must be certified by the American Board of Orthodontics. Most Orthodontists choose to focus on their orthodontics practice in place of general dentistry.

Orthodontist Job Description Sample

With this Orthodontist job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Orthodontist role.

Job Summary

We are looking for an experienced and personable Orthodontist to join our growing practice. The Orthodontist will assess, diagnose, and treat problems related to the alignment of teeth and jaws, and provide educational services to patients and their families concerning the diagnosis and treatment options. The successful candidate must be experienced in the use of orthodontic appliances, such as braces and retainers, and be comfortable working with patients of all ages.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Diagnose and develop treatment plan for various orthodontic issues
  • Adjust braces, retainers, and other orthodontic appliances to ensure proper fitting and function
  • Monitor patients’ progress and adjust treatment plans as needed
  • Educate patients and their families on proper oral hygiene, the patient’s condition and treatment plan, the use of orthodontic appliances, and post-treatment care
  • Prepare and maintain accurate patient records
  • Communicate with other healthcare professionals regarding patient care

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Doctorate degree in Orthodontics (DDS or DMD) from an accredited dental school
  • Board certification in Orthodontics
  • License to practice orthodontics in the state
  • Knowledge of current orthodontic technology and techniques
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills