Summary: An Orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in the examination, diagnosis, and treatment of dental malocclusions and anomalies of the oral cavity. Orthodontists design and administer corrective appliance like braces that gently moves patient’s teeth into proper alignment as well as study medical and dental histories of patients to determine the most suitable treatment plans.
Duties: Upon seeing a patient, Orthodontists begins a consultation where the patient discusses their reason for visit. An examination follows where he takes x-rays, photos, and plaster molds of the areas that need to be realigned. From there, the Orthodontist will determine a plan of action which he suggests to the patient. If the patient agrees, the orthodontist can begin fitting retainers, or adding brackets, installing braces or teaching the patient how to use other equipment. Periodically examining the patient will still be necessary to ensure the treatment is working as planned. This may involve modifying the treatment, tightening braces, or making any repairs. Once treatment is complete, the orthodontist will also be responsible for removing the dental appliance.
Education and Training Requirements: Students who are looking into taking a career as an Orthodontist should study biology, chemistry, health, and mathematics in high school. Pre-dentistry students should complete at least 3 years of college, although a 4-year degree is advisable. They then must complete 4 years of dental school to earn a doctorate in Dental Surgery or Dental Medicine. Another two to three year program leading to a certificate or a master’s degree in Orthodontics is then required. They need to pass a licensing exam to be able to practice, and pursue continuing education to maintain their license.
Knowledge and Skills Requirements: Orthodontists spend most of their time dealing with patients so it’s important to have good communication skills. They must be well-organized and can pay attention to details. Critical thinking is also necessary because each patient has a different case and they have to decide which treatment would work best. The job also requires manual dexterity, ability to multi-task, and quick thinking in high-pressure situations.
Working Conditions: Most Orthodontists work in private practice while a small percentage is employed hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. Work environment should be clean, sterile, and well lit. Generally, they work normal office hours from Monday to Friday, although they may be required to work evenings or weekends to fit a client’s schedule. Working hours also depend on the type of dentistry they practice and the sector they work for. Private practicing orthodontists enjoy more flexible hours.
Salary: The median salary of Orthodontists is $55,000 per year. This can vary greatly due to place of practice, location, experience, and benefits. Benefits received may include health, dental, and vision insurance; life insurance, and longtime disability.