What is a Orthodontist

Orthodontists (also known as Pediatric Orthodontist, Dentofacial Orthopedics Dentist, Invisible Braces Orthodontist) is a specialized dentist who treats patients with irregularities of the teeth. By manipulating different aspects of facial growth with braces and other dental devices, they are able to ensure the proper development of a patient’s jaw. For more on job descriptions and how to become a orthodontist, please visit our orthodontist job description page.

Work Environment

The majority of orthodontists will work either in their own practices, or in a joint practice with other orthodontists or dentists. Occasionally, they will work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, or the offices of other health practitioners, but this accounts for less than 1% of employed orthodontists.

As their work involves close inspection and treatment of the mouth, the work environment for orthodontists will be well-lit and clean. They will need to be skilled at working with patients in all age ranges, from the elderly to the quite young, and especially with teenagers, who may be in need of braces or retainers.

Work Schedule

Most orthodontists tend to work full time, with a forty-hour work week. This can, however, vary to some degree, with the occasional need for overtime or emergency work. These instances will be rare, though, especially for those not employed in a general or surgical hospital. For those with their own practice, they will have the ability to set and work their own hours.

Mean Annual Orthodontist Salary

The mean annual orthodontist salary is $186,320. The mean salary is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and divid that value by the total number of employees. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $67,530 and the top 10% makes well over $250,000.

Orthodontist Salary: Quick Summary

2012 Median Salary$186,320 per year
$89.58 per hour
Top 10% Salaryover $250,000 per year
over $120 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$67,530 per year
$32.47 per hour
Number of Jobs, 20125,530

Orthodontist Job Outlook and Prospects

The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the orthodontist profession to grow about 16% by 2022. However, the demand for orthodontists is directly correlated with the general economy of the United States. During the economic downturn in recent years, the demand for orthodontists has drastically decreased. When people have less money to spend, they generally tend to eliminate non-necessary costs first, such as dental work. Another factor that may affect job prospects for orthodontists is the lack of access to dental care in some locations in the country. Most orthodontists are employed in the coastal regions of the US.

What Affects The Orthodontist Salary

The average orthodontist salary is $186,320, with the lowest 10% still earning more than $100,000 per year. However, there are a panoply of factors affecting orthodontist salary, including experience, geographical location, and the type of establishment the orthodontist works in.

While an orthodontist can make a better salary in the long term by starting a private practice, the costs and expenses can be prohibitive in the short term, with the average earnings for a newly graduated orthodontist falling around $75,000 after expenses (loan payments, assistant salaries, establishment rental/purchase, etc). However, yearly earnings tend to rise sharply after this time, by upwards of $30,000 per year.

Areas with a higher cost of living will improve orthodontist salary, though it comes with the issue of an extra cost of living. Finding a balance between these two edges of the sword is the ideal method for salary increase.

Education and Specialization

Orthodontics is, in itself, a specialization in the dental field. It offers a higher salary than standard dentistry by approximately $20,000. As orthodontists generally require the same education, and there aren’t any subspecialties in the field as yet, there are few, if any, salary differences based on these factors.

Experience and Position

As mentioned, an orthodontist beginning their own practice will, at the outset, have a lower annual salary than one taking a position at another office. However, as they grow in experience and reputation, a private orthodontist’s salary will rise with the number of patients and the services offered, as well as charges for those services. The highest paid orthodontists can receive upwards of $400,000 per year.


The type of establishment has a great affect on orthodontist salary; orthodontists who work in the offices of physicians will tend to receive the highest salary, at $200,010 per year on average. On the other side, those who work in general medical and surgical hospitals will average around $110,020.


In general, an area with a higher cost of living will yield a higher orthodontist salary. As the average orthodontist salary is higher than average national salary overall, this is a bonus; in most instances, this will mean a higher salary outstripping the higher cost of living, meaning a net gain in overall lifestyle.

Orthodontist Salary: Top 5

Top Paying Metropolitan AreasTop Paying States Top Paying IndustriesStates with Highest Employment Level
New York, NY: $240,610Wisconsin
Offices of Physicians: $200,010Illinois: (670 jobs) $106,150
Los Angeles, CA: $240,270MinnesotaOffices of Dentist: $187,010California: (620 jobs) $165,960
Atlanta, GA: $224,800KansasOffices of Other Health Care Professionals: $183,840Texas: (400 jobs) $239,510
Newark-Union, NJ-PA: $221,430ColoradoOutpatient Care Centers: $168,900Indiana: (370 jobs) $123,020
Trenton, NJ: $213,590ArizonaGeneral Medical and Surgical Hospitals: $110,020Florida: (310 jobs) $162,850

Orthodontist Salary State by State