Orthodontist Job Description
Orthodontists straighten their patients’ teeth and jaws by applying pressure with braces, retainers, and other devices. They provide treatment for both cosmetic and functional reasons.
Diagnosing a patient’s needs and developing a treatment plan normally requires x-rays and plaster models of the teeth. Some orthodontists perform these procedures themselves, while others employ a technician to help.
When necessary, orthodontists also perform oral surgery to correct problems that can’t be treated through traditional orthodontic procedures.
Most orthodontists rely on referrals to keep new business coming in, so working well with people and creating a positive experience for patients is extremely important for success in this occupation.
Work Environment and Schedule
Orthodontists work in an office environment, where they spend most of their time working with patients.
Most orthodontist offices are open during the day between Monday and Friday, but many offices have extended their schedules to accommodate patients into the evening hours. Orthodontists normally work well over a forty hour work week, especially if they start their own practice. Running a business takes a lot of time, and commands hours that go far beyond the typical 9-5.
How to Become an Orthodontist
The first step to becoming an orthodontist is to enroll in an accredited university and earn a bachelor’s degree of science. Getting good grades as an undergraduate is very important, because getting into a dental school is very competitive.
With a bachelor’s degree in hand, it’s time to attend dental school. Dental school takes four years to complete. Again, getting good grades is important, because after dental school you need to enroll in an orthodontic residency. These programs last between two and three years, and provide the on the job training that orthodontists will need for the rest of their careers.
After the residency, you must pass the written section of the American Board of Orthodontics exam in order to practice. Some states may have additional licensing requirements. To learn the specific requirements, check with your state’s board of health.
There are currently 8,300 orthodontists in the United States, with 420 new orthodontist job openings created each year.
Orthodontist jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Orthodontist salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most orthodontists make between $135,500 – $166,400+ per year, or $65.14 – $80+ per hour.