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Orthodontics Career

Career Description

An Orthodontist examines, diagnoses, and treats dental malocclusions and oral cavity anomalies. They design and fabricate appliances to realign teeth and jaws to produce and maintain normal function and to improve appearance.

Common Work Tasks

  • Fit dental appliances in patients’ mouths to alter the position and relationship of teeth and jaws or to realign teeth
  • Study diagnostic records, such as medical or dental histories, plaster models of the teeth, photos of a patient’s face and teeth, and X-rays, to develop patient treatment plans
  • Diagnose teeth and jaw or other dental-facial abnormalities
  • Collaborate with other professionals, such as restorative dentists and orthodontists, to plan treatment
  • Examine patients to assess abnormalities of jaw development, tooth position, and other dental-facial structures
  • Prepare diagnostic and treatment records
  • Adjust dental appliances to produce and maintain normal function
  • Provide patients with proposed treatment plans and cost estimates
  • Instruct dental officers and technical assistants in orthodontic procedures and techniques
  • Coordinate orthodontic services with other dental and medical services

Other Job Titles

Orthodontists are also known by other titles, including:

  • Dentists
  • Surgeons
  • Prosthodontists
  • Periodontists

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
 
To become an orthodontist, candidates must graduate from an accredited dental school and pass written and practical examinations. Dental schools require a minimum of 2 years of college-level predental education prior to admittance. Most dental students have at least a bachelor’s degree before entering dental school,  although a few applicants are accepted to dental school after 2 or 3 years of college and complete their bachelor’s degree while attending dental school.

Certification and Licensure
     
Licensing is required to practice as a dentist. In most States, licensure requires passing written and practical examinations in addition to having a degree from an accredited dental school. Candidates may fulfill the written part of the State licensing requirements by passing the National Board Dental Examinations.  Individual States or regional testing agencies administer the written or practical examinations.

Experience
  Dentistry requires diagnostic ability and manual skills. Orthodontists should have good visual memory, excellent judgment regarding space, shape, and color, a high degree of manual dexterity, and scientific ability. Good business sense,  self-discipline, and good communication skills are helpful for success in private practice.

Salary

The median annual salary for an Orthodontist is $145,000. Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of orthodontists are:

  • Offices of Dentists - $186,810

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  9%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 800
  • Employment 2006 : 9,200
  • Employment 2016:  10,000
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