Orthodontics used to be called orthodontia, which is derived from the Greek words orthos and dontos, and means “straight teeth.” Orthodontists are dentists specialized in the field of orthodontics who major in the correction or prevention of irregularities of teeth. Their main job focus is to provide people of all ages with a healthy and beautiful smile. We all want a set of well-aligned teeth, whether it be for aesthetic reasons, such as increasing the attractiveness of a smile, to health reasons, like being able to chew and bite food correctly.

Orthodontists have their own businesses or work in other dentists’ clinics. Currently, there are lots of vacancies for them in the United States especially in central regions of the United States.

Orthodontist Job Description

Orthodontists provide treatment to people that have dental malocclusions and oral cavity anomalies. Their basic responsibility is to realign and strengthen the teeth and jaw with the application of braces and orthodontic retainers. Besides providing treatment to the patients, orthodontists interact with the doctors and other healthcare providers frequently owing to the nature of their job. They are also involved in public health educational program.

The orthodontist job description is as follows:
  • Test the oral cavity anomalies as well as dental malocclusion and suggests the appropriate treatment for such conditions
  • Analyze dental photos and x-rays of their patients and develop the appropriate treatment plan
  • Fit and adjust dental devices on patients
  • Examine dental and medical histories of patients
  • Diagnose jaw and teeth abnormalities
  • Design and construct dental devices like space maintainers, lingual and labial arch wires and retainers
  • Teach patients on the right teeth-cleaning methods
  • Promote oral hygiene
  • Organize public health programs to educate people on what to eat and what not to eat

How to Become an Orthodontist

Students who want to become orthodontists are expected to possess a Bachelor’s Degree in Science (BSc) or have at least 2 years of undergraduate education in science before they are qualified to enrol a dental school where they can specialize in orthodontics. There are a total of 56 dental schools accredited nationwide by the American Dental Association. Graduates of these schools are given Doctor of Dental Medicine Degree (DMD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). Upon completion of the basic 4 year dental program, students must specialize in orthodontics through an accredited post graduate residency program approved by Commission on Dental Accreditation, or CODA, which requires an additional 2 to 3 years of education and training. 

Orthodontist Certification

Dentists are required to be licensed in all of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Any orthodontists who want to obtain licensure should take the written and clinical examinations administered by American Board of Orthodontics (ABO). After successfully passing the exam, applicants can procure the license which in turn allows them to practice.

Some orthodontists may choose to become Board Certified. Only 20% of all orthodontists in the United States are Board Certified Orthodontists. They are also called a Diplomat of the American Board of Orthodontics representing the highest achievement one can earn in this profession. These dentists have to pass a series of additional written exams and case studies in order to attain this title. However, those that do often gain more prestige along with a notable increase in salary.

Orthodontist Salary

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Orthodontist Job Description Summary

Here is a short recap of the orthodontist job description:
  • Treat irregularities of teeth
  • Work with other dentists and dental assistants
  • 4 year dental school program
  • 2 to 3 years of additional training
  • Must be licensed to practice
  • 16% employment growth by 2022