Orthodontist Job Description

Orthodontist Job Description: Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry that is concerned with the study and treatment of malocclusions (improper bites), which may be a result of tooth irregularity, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both. The word comes from the Greek words ortho meaning straight and odons meaning tooth.

Orthodontic treatment can focus on dental displacement only, or can deal with the control and modification of facial growth. In the latter case it is better defined as "dentofacial orthopedics". Orthodontic treatment can be carried out for purely aesthetic reasons—improving the general appearance of patients' teeth and face for cosmetic reasons—but treatment is often prescribed for practical reasons, providing the patient with a functionally improved bite (occlusion).

Orthodontists typically deal with hardware such as retainers and headgear with the goal of aligning teeth to improve the appearance or the ability of the person to chew and swallow food without difficulty or pain.

Orthodontists frequently work with children to straighten teeth. 

Working Conditions

Orthodontists work in well lighted offices or clinics. The average Orthodontist works approximately 30-40 hours per week. Working conditions are generally pleasant with no expectation of being on call or working nights as some healthcare professionals do..

Training and Qualifications - what you have to do to be an Orthodontist

Dental schools require a minimum of 2 years of college-level pre-dental education, regardless of the major chosen. However, most dental students have at least a bachelor’s degree. Pre-dental education emphasizes coursework in science, and many applicants to dental school major in a science such as biology or chemistry, while other applicants major in another subject and take many science courses as well. 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.

Following graduation from dental school, Orthodontists complete a orthodontic program spanning a minimum of 2-3 years. Emphasis in training is placed on the oral and facial area. A clinical practice or internship is included where the successful applicant learns to re-align teeth and work with the specialized procedures of orthodontic dentistry.

Significant Points

Orthodontists must be licensed, requiring 2 to 3 years of undergraduate education, completion of a 4-year dental college course, 2-3 years in an orthodontic residency and passing scores on National and State examinations.

As a result of the longer educational requirements orthodontists can expect to graduate with a significant amount of education related debt such as student loans.

Employment is expected to increase faster than average as a result of shortages in various specialty occupations

Job prospects should be good; establishing a new practice will be easiest in areas with a low concentration of Orthodontists.

As with other types of independent practice, earnings for Orthodontists are relatively low in the beginning, but increase as the practice grows.

The management of an Orthodontic practice requires the same skills as for a small business; accounts receivable, hiring employees, and business overhead are just a few of the many details that will have to be dealt with.

Advancement - chances for promotion

The majority of orthodontists are engaged in private practice. Unless they work for a major corporation or form a group practice promotions and advancement will be limited. Increases in salary will come from raising their fees and/or passing on rising costs to the consumer. For those who are employed advancement will vary depending on the size of the organization.