Orthodontists help patients correct improper bite patterns caused by jaw misalignments and tooth irregularities. Becoming an orthodontist takes work, but can be fulfilling and rewarding. Patients’ lives are forever enhanced when they are proud to show off a healthy and beautiful smile.
An orthodontist examines, diagnoses, and treats problems involving malocclusions. Orthodontists are skilled at using different devices and methods in order to move the teeth into a more desirable position. If needed, orthodontists may also use devices to guide facial development for young patients, in order to avoid future malocclusions. While some malocclusions may be corrected strictly for aesthetic purposes, many corrections help patients to avoid dental problems or make it easier for patients to talk, eat, and breathe.
To become an orthodontist, students must first complete a course in general dentistry. After a DDS, DBS, DMD, or equivalent has been obtained from an accredited school for dentistry, students must complete an additional two to five years of schooling in the science of orthodontics, accompanied by a two to three year residency in an ADA approved program.
Besides formal training, orthodontists must possess certain skills and characteristics to be successful in the field. Orthodontists must truly love working with people and helping people in order for the field to be fulfilling. Orthodontists should be quick thinking and have an eye for details in order to be successful. If an orthodontist wishes to go into private practice, the orthodontist should also possess management and leadership skills.
Many certified orthodontists open up private practices on their own. However, some may choose to gain employment at existing offices, or may partner with other orthodontists to start an office. When offices are privately owned or are owned jointly, orthodontists can adapt the practice to suit their lifestyle. Since many patients are still in high school, remaining open on weekends may allow orthodontists to operate on more flexible schedules.
Orthodontist salaries fluctuate according to where the office is located and what skills are applicable, as with any profession. However, the mean orthodontist salary in the United States is about $140,850 annually. The middle 50 percent of orthodontists make between roughly $100,000 and $175,000 per year. In addition to this base salary, orthodontists may receive benefits, pension, and bonuses. When orthodontists are Board Certified, salary may be increased.