It is a big commitment to choose a career as an orthodontist. As a candidate for a dental career in orthodontics, a good prospect will need the ability to communicate with others and be sensitive to their problems. The orthodontist will have to be able to examine the patient, understand both the physical anatomy of their problem and the emotional side as well. Then he will need to be able to explain the nature of their situation and the proposed course of treatment to them in a comforting manner and in a clear and easy to understand way. Orthodontists need good problem solving skills and reasoning as they design dental appliances and courses of treatment suited to the individual’s dental difficulties. Good manual dexterity, arm and hand steadiness, and near vision are also needed as the orthodontist applies dental appliances to the patients teeth.
Orthodontists straighten teeth by applying pressure to the teeth with braces or retainers. They use a variety of equipment, including X-ray machines, drills, and instruments such as mouth mirrors, probes, forceps, brushes, and scalpels. They wear masks, gloves, and safety glasses to protect themselves and their patients from diseases. They work with a staff of dental assistants, office secretary(s) and supervise the staff and a variety of administrative tasks such as bookkeeping, and buying equipment and supplies.
Working conditions for the orthodontist are pleasant. Most work 40 hours a week although some prefer to work more, especially as they first establish their practice. Many continue part time long after the usual age of retirement due to their enjoyment of the job. Some orthodontist’s work as partners but most work as solo practitioners and run their own offices with a small staff. As small businessmen who run their own practice they also can benefit from training in office operations, financial planning, time management and interpersonal skills which will help them with patient care and as an employer of office staff.
Median yearly earnings for orthodontist in 2006 were $145,600 with the middle 50 percent earning $101,300 to $145,600. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,500 and the highest 10 percent earned $145,600. With this kind of projected income and at least average job growth through 2016 makes this a prime career path for those looking at a dental career. Due to retirement in the orthodontics field growth should remain steady. In 2006 there were 161,000 dentists, of whom 9,200 were orthodontists, and as anyone with a child in orthodontics care knows, those practices were very busy.
Those who are thinking of any dental career, including orthodontics needs to take biology, mathematics, chemistry and physics while in high school. All 50 states and the District of Columbia require licensing for orthodontist and dentist. To practice in orthodontics a D.D.S. or D.M.D. is required. The title of Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine are usually based on a program requiring at least 2 academic years of work prior to entrance and a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete the degree program, including both prior-required college work and the professional program itself. A candidate is required to graduate from dental school, pass a written and practical exam, or pass the National Board Dental Examinations. Some individual state or regional testing agencies administer the written or practical examinations as well.
If you are considering a dental career and think that orthodontics might be for you then you are entering a fine healthcare job. You will be able to help others live a better quality life while making a living and providing jobs for others. For many orthodontists this dental job opportunity has been the base for a successful and happy life.