Orthodontist Career Information
This is the largest group of specialized dentists. Their area of expertise is in straightening their patients’ teeth by using braces and retainers to apply pressure to the appropriate location in the mouth. Some orthodontists also use surgical techniques to correct problems.
Orthodontic work may be done for cosmetic reasons, or a patient may require this kind of care after sustaining an injury. Most people who work as orthodontists do so as sole practitioners, but some offer services as part of a practice group.
If you want to go it alone, you will need to acquire the technical skills necessary to provide services to your patients. You will also need to be able to communicate effectively to explain treatment options to your patients. Since you will also be working for yourself, some business courses would be very helpful to help you manage that part of your practice.
You would be working four or five days a week, and may need to offer services on some evenings and on Saturdays to be available to patients. Before you start practicing as an orthodontist, you will need to pass a licensing exam. Some new orthodontists choose to take over an existing practice after completing their training, while others start one from scratch.
The first step in getting qualified to be an orthodontist is to complete a four-year Bachelor’s Degree. Four years of dental school will follow and during that time, you will have a combination of course work and practical components. Courses offered at dental school will include:
When the time comes to start practical work, dental students provide services to patients under the supervision of a qualified dentist. After completing the requirements to become a dentist, you will then start specialized training in orthodontics.
All the work involved to become an orthodontist will be worth the effort, since the median salary for this occupation is $185,340. Bonuses and benefits are not included in this figure.
Employment Trends for Orthodontists
There will be jobs available for orthodontists as older practitioners retire. The outlook for new people starting out is average. Be aware of the business cycle when considering the demand for orthodontic services since health insurance offered through employers is responsible for paying in many cases. When businesses are cutting back, benefit packages may be scaled down, which may lead to a lower demand for this kind of specialized dental care.