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Orthodontist Job Description, Career as a Orthodontist, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Advanced degree and licensing in orthodontics

Salary Median: $120,696 per year

Employment Outlook: Very good

Orthodontists examine oral cavity anomalies and dental malocclusions and treat such conditions. They are primarily responsible for realigning, or straightening, teeth and jaws by using orthodontic retainers and braces. Orthodontists study the medical and dental histories of patients, analyzing their X-rays and photos and developing treatment plans. They fit patients with dental appliances, prepare treatment records, and provide cost estimates. Orthodontists may also be required to design appliances like retainers, lingual and labial arch wires, and space maintainers.

The job of orthodontists requires frequent interaction with other doctors and staff. They need to educate patients about proper eating and teeth-cleaning habits. They may also be required to check and adjust dental fittings for patients. The work in itself can be very rewarding, especially since the results of orthodontics help restore the confidence and self-esteem levels in people.

Education and Training Requirements

In order to become an orthodontist, students first need to have at least two years of undergraduate education or a bachelor’s degree in science. On completion of the degree program, they need to apply to a dental school. Admission to such schools is mostly based on the Dental Admissions Test’s scores. After enrollment, students need to take courses in advanced sciences. Dental school lasts four years, and students graduating from it are given the Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. These new dentists need to follow that degree with a certification in orthodontics. This requires another three years of study.

The majority of states require orthodontists to be licensed. The licensure process involves getting a degree from an accredited dental school and passing the National Board Dental Examinations. In some states, students may be required to complete a special state examination in addition to having a postgraduate degree.

Getting the Job

Qualified orthodontists can apply for positions in health care organizations or private offices of physicians. Information regarding such openings may be found in employment journals, newspaper advertisements, and career Web sites. Additionally, recent graduates can ask for help from placement offices at dental schools.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Orthodontists may start out by working as associates of established dentists. After gaining the required experience, they may establish their own orthodontics practices. Those interested in academics can also shift to research work or take faculty positions in dental schools. In order to advance in orthodontics, orthodontists must be well aware of all the latest developments in the field.

Employment outlook for orthodontists is expected to be favorable in the next decade. Over the years, demand for dental services is likely to increase, resulting in greater job opportunities. Prospects do depend on the general economic condition and in slow times, orthodontists are likely to face a reduction in demand for their services.

Working Conditions

A lot of orthodontists set up their own businesses and work alongside other doctors and staff. Those employed in health care facilities usually have clean, well-lit, and comfortable offices. Work hours are flexible, and orthodontists may adjust their schedules in order to meet the needs of their patients and themselves. This may involve working in the evenings and during weekends. Full-time orthodontists usually work 35 to 40 hours every week. Some even continue with part-time practice post-retirement.

Where to Go for More Information

American Association of Orthodontists
401 N. Lindbergh Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63141-7816

Southern Association of Orthodontists
32 Lenox Pointe NE
Atlanta, GA 30324-3169

American Lingual Orthodontic Association
1428 Park Building
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

The American Orthodontic Society
11884 Greenville Ave., Suite 112
Dallas, TX 75243

International Association for Orthodontics
750 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., Suite 422
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Salary, Earnings and Benefits

The median annual salary of orthodontists in the United States in $120,696. However, salaries depend on an individual’s level of expertise. For instance, entry-level salaries in this profession are around $99,157 per year, whereas experienced orthodontists can earn more than $146,346 annually.

Orthodontists enjoy a host of fringe benefits. Apart from paid leaves and vacations, they are also entitled to medical insurance.

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