Orthodontic specialists play a critical role in identifying and treating tooth problems. They are trained to diagnose, prevent, and treat teeth and jaw problems such as crooked teeth, jaw misalignment, bite problems, and crowded teeth. Although teeth and jaws seem like a small portion of the body, treating problems such as crooked teeth requires specialized expertise. According to the classroom, becoming an orthodontist takes about 10 to 12 years.
Orthodontic specialists must complete four years of undergraduate training, with some foundational courses in biology, chemistry, and anatomy. The American Dental Education Association does not require aspiring orthodontists to have a major in undergraduate, although foundational courses come in handy when applying for dental school. An undergraduate degree typically takes 3 to 4 years.
Prospective orthodontists apply for dental school and take the Dental Admissions Test. Dental School typically takes four years. Students cover dental anatomy, lab work, and oral biology units. Coursework also involves practical dentistry work.
After dental school graduation, prospective orthodontists must go through a residency program for typically for 1 to 2 years. Some of the focus areas include:
- Craniofacial pain
- Head and neck anatomy
- Clinical orthodontics
During residency, a practicing orthodontist supervises resident orthodontists. After completing the residency program, orthodontists take a certification exam administered by the National Board of Dental Examination. Licensed orthodontists can start their practice or seek employment in public and private dental clinics.
A licensed orthodontist is a trained dentist specializing in teeth and jaw correction. So they rarely treat toothaches and bleeding gums, although they have the training. Orthodontist specialists typically treat the following conditions:
- Misaligned jaws
- Teeth overcrowding
- Overbite and under bite
- Protruding teeth
Orthodontists use various methods to diagnose and treat teeth, for example by taking X-ray pictures, performing surgery, and applying dental braces.
Orthodontics is a lucrative field. According to the US BLS, the median annual salary of a practicing orthodontist is $208,000. Experience and state also determine the starting salary, with some states such as Texas and Colorado, offering lucrative packages for orthodontist specialists.
The demand for orthodontic specialists is expected to increase by 18% between 2018 and 2024, according to the BLS. Increased access to dental insurance and innovations in the dental field will likely fuel this growth. Are you aspiring to become an orthodontist? Visit us today for more information.