An orthodontist helps individuals with crooked teeth or improper bites. In severe cases, correcting these issues can even help people with basic tasks such as chewing. Helping people to improve the alignment of their teeth can also improve their smile and increase confidence. On any given day, they see patients that they must treat, either by applying braces or other appliances and making ongoing adjustments to those devices.
Watch a video to learn what an orthodontist does:
How to Become an Orthodontist
Orthodontists must complete dental school and earn their doctorate degree in dental surgery or dental medicine. So all orthodontists must become dentists first. However, to become an orthodontist, they must continue their education and attend a 2-3 year residency orthodontic program. This program will train them to practice orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. Next, an orthodontist can become a board-certified orthodontist through the American Board of Orthodontics and they would renew their certification every 10 years.
Job Description of an Orthodontist
orthodontists review their patient’s dental records along with their photos and X-rays in order to design a treatment plan. They use devices such as braces and retainers to change the placement of their client’s teeth. Depending on the patient’s diagnosis, an orthodontist can greatly impact someone’s quality of life by realigning their teeth. This can improve a person’s ability to eat and improve their smile.
They may work with patients of all ages, from children to adults. Some patients may find visiting the dentist intimidating or even scary, so orthodontists should be patient, relatable, and compassionate so their patients have a good experience.
Orthodontist Career Video Transcript
Beautifully straight, even teeth make for a great smile. They also contribute to overall good health. Orthodontists have the skills to help people both look and feel better. Orthodontists treat abnormalities in how the upper and lower teeth fit together, called the “bite.” They study each patient’s mouth and jaw, using dental and medical histories, X-rays, and plaster models of the teeth.
After diagnosing a problem, the orthodontist creates appliances such as braces or retainers to help straighten the teeth. This profession requires excellent hand coordination and good vision, as the “work space” can be as small as a child’s tooth. A friendly, reassuring bedside manner is helpful for treating patients who find orthodontist visits stressful. Many orthodontists work for themselves in their own practice or in a group practice with other dental professionals.
It can be a physically challenging job; during an average work day, orthodontists often spend several hours standing and bending. These are highly trained medical professionals with four years of college, four years of dental school, and two to three years of post-graduate orthodontics training, followed by certification and licensing exams. After all that training, we have orthodontists to thank for providing millions of happy, healthy smiles!
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Orthodontist.
National Center for O*NET Development. 29-1023.00. O*NET OnLine.
The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.