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Become An Orthodontist

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Working As An Orthodontist

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $80,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Orthodontist Do

Dentists diagnose and treat problems with patients’ teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth. They provide advice and instruction on taking care of the teeth and gums and on diet choices that affect oral health.

Duties

Dentists typically do the following:

  • Remove decay from teeth and fill cavities
  • Repair cracked or fractured teeth and remove teeth
  • Place sealants or whitening agents on teeth
  • Administer anesthetics to keep patients from feeling pain during procedures
  • Prescribe antibiotics or other medications
  • Examine x rays of teeth, gums, the jaw, and nearby areas in order to diagnose problems
  • Make models and measurements for dental appliances, such as dentures, to fit patients
  • Teach patients about diets, flossing, the use of fluoride, and other aspects of dental care

Dentists use a variety of equipment, including x-ray machines, drills, mouth mirrors, probes, forceps, brushes, and scalpels. They also use lasers, digital scanners, and other computer technologies, such as digital dentistry.

In addition, dentists in private practice oversee a variety of administrative tasks, including bookkeeping and buying equipment and supplies. They employ and supervise dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental laboratory technicians, and receptionists.

Most dentists are general practitioners and handle a variety of dental needs. Other dentists practice in 1 of 9 specialty areas:

Dental public health specialists promote good dental health and the prevention of dental diseases in specific communities.

Endodontists perform root-canal therapy, by which they remove the nerves and blood supply from injured or infected teeth.

Oral and maxillofacial radiologists diagnose diseases in the head and neck through the use of imaging technologies.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons operate on the mouth, jaws, teeth, gums, neck, and head, performing procedures such as surgically repairing a cleft lip and palate or removing impacted teeth.

Oral pathologists diagnose conditions in the mouth, such as bumps or ulcers, and oral diseases, such as cancer.

Orthodontists straighten teeth by applying pressure to the teeth with braces or other appliances.

Pediatric dentists focus on dentistry for children and special-needs patients.

Periodontists treat the gums and bone supporting the teeth.

Prosthodontists replace missing teeth with permanent fixtures, such as crowns and bridges, or with removable fixtures, such as dentures.

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How To Become An Orthodontist

Dentists must be licensed in the state(s) in which they work. Licensure requirements vary by state, although candidates usually must graduate from an accredited dental school and pass written and practical exams.

Education

All dental schools require applicants to have completed certain science courses, such as biology and chemistry, before entering dental school. Students typically need at least a bachelor’s degree to enter most dental programs, although no specific major is required. However, majoring in a science, such as biology, might increase one’s chances of being accepted. Requirements vary by school.

College undergraduates who plan on applying to dental school usually must take the Dental Admission Test (DAT) during their junior year. Admission to dental school can be competitive. Dental schools use these tests along with other factors, such as grade point average, interviews, and recommendations, to admit students into their programs.

Dental school programs typically include coursework in subjects such as local anesthesia, anatomy, periodontics (the study of oral disease and health), and radiology. All programs at dental schools include clinical experience in which students work directly with patients under the supervision of a licensed dentist.

Completion of a dental program results in one of three degrees: Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM), and Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD). In 2015, the Commission on Dental Accreditation, part of the American Dental Association, accredited more than 60 dental school programs.

High school students who want to become dentists should take courses in chemistry, physics, biology, anatomy, and math.

Training

All nine dental specialties require dentists to complete additional training before practicing that specialty. This training is usually a 2- to 4-year residency in a program related to their specialty. General dentists do not require any additional training after dental school.

Dentists who want to teach or do research full time usually spend an additional 2 to 5 years in advanced dental training. Many practicing dentists also teach part time, including supervising students in dental school clinics.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Dentists must be licensed in the state(s) in which they work. All states require dentists to be licensed; requirements vary by state. Most states require a dentist to have a degree from an accredited dental school and to pass the written and practical National Board Dental Examinations.

In addition, a dentist who wants to practice in one of the nine specialties must have a license in that specialty. Licensure requires the completion of a residency after dental school and, in some cases, the completion of a special state exam.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Dentists must have excellent communication skills. They must be able to communicate effectively with patients, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and receptionists.

Detail oriented. Dentists must be detail oriented so that patients receive appropriate treatments and medications. They also must pay attention to the shape and color of teeth and to the space between them. For example, they may need to closely match a false tooth with a patient’s other teeth.

Dexterity. Dentists must be good at working with their hands. They work with tools in a limited area.

Leadership skills. Most dentists work in their own practice. This requires them to manage and lead a staff.

Organizational skills. Strong organizational skills, including the ability to keep accurate records of patient care, are critical in both medical and business settings.

Patience. Dentists may work for long periods of time with patients who need special attention. Children and patients with a fear of dental work may require a lot of patience.

Physical stamina. Dentists should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as bending over patients for long periods.

Problem-solving skills. Dentists need strong problem-solving skills. They must evaluate patients’ symptoms and choose the appropriate treatments.

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Average Yearly Salary
$80,000
Show Salaries
$36,000
Min 10%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$177,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Dental Care Alliance
Highest Paying City
Modesto, CA
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
5.4 years
How much does an Orthodontist make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Orthodontist in the United States is $80,589 per year or $39 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $36,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $177,000.

Real Orthodontist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Orthodontist Dental Care Team, P.C. Grand Blanc, MI Jul 26, 2016 $391,313
Orthodontist Dental Care Team, P.C. Grand Blanc, MI Jul 19, 2016 $391,313
Orthodontist Smile Leasing, PLLC Denton, TX Nov 30, 2016 $326,094
Orthodontist Metroplex Dental Care PLLC Dallas, TX Sep 28, 2015 $325,572
Orthodontist Soumava Sen DDS, PC Fort Worth, TX Oct 01, 2014 $325,572
Orthdontist Metroplex Dental Care PLLC Dallas, TX Sep 28, 2015 $325,572
Orthodontist United Orthodontics, P.C. El Paso, TX Aug 26, 2016 $313,829
Orthodontist Kool Smiles, P.C. Roanoke, VA Dec 15, 2014 $313,050
Orthodontist Western Dental Services, Inc. Modesto, CA Aug 10, 2015 $300,000
Orthodontist Soumava Sen DDS, PC Euless, TX Sep 26, 2014 $300,000
Orthodontist Western Dental Services, Inc. Fresno, CA Aug 31, 2016 $240,893
Orthodontists Kawa Orthodontics, LLP Boca Raton, FL May 30, 2014 $240,000
Orthodontist Kawa Orthodontics, LLP Boca Raton, FL Sep 19, 2013 $240,000
Orthodontist Kawa Orthodontics, LLP Boca Raton, FL Sep 25, 2014 $240,000
Orthodontist M. Gabriela Marquez, D.M.D., M.S.D., P.C. Sudbury, MA Aug 08, 2014 $234,788
Orthodontist Familia Dental Moline LLC Moline, IL Jan 10, 2016 $230,400
Pediatric Orthodontist University of Minnesota Physicians Minneapolis, MN Jul 28, 2014 $227,483
Orthodontist Juan D. Villarreal DDS Series PLLC Harlingen, TX Sep 02, 2013 $225,000
Orthodontist Midwestern Orthodontic Associates, PPLC Lansing, MI Dec 22, 2016 $187,200
Orthodontist Peter J. Lee, DDS, Inc. Bellevue, WA Apr 21, 2016 $187,199
Orthodontists Arthur Fertman, D.D.S., P.C. Burlington, MA May 01, 2014 $183,664
Orthodontist Soumava Sen DDS, PC Harlingen, TX Sep 16, 2015 $182,000
Orthodontist Soumava Sen DDS, PC Harlingen, TX Aug 04, 2014 $180,000
Orthodontist Dental Depot of 145Th and Penn Oklahoma City, OK Jul 03, 2015 $180,000
Orthodontist PDOM Glen Burnie, LLC Glen Burnie, MD Sep 01, 2014 $177,499

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Top Skills for An Orthodontist

  1. Scheduling Appointments
  2. Dental Procedures
  3. Alginate Impressions
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Front desk duties including answering incoming calls, scheduling appointments, collecting payments and filing paperwork.
  • Worked closely with patients before, during and after dental procedures.
  • Progressed and finished treatments inherited from the previous orthodontist with excellent result.
  • Managed Orthodontic team consisting of 3 orthodontic assistants and patient care coordinator
  • Toured Initial Visit Consultations, constructed treatment plans, and financial paper work for patients.

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Top 10 Best States for Orthodontists

  1. South Dakota
  2. North Dakota
  3. Arkansas
  4. Colorado
  5. Nevada
  6. Tennessee
  7. Minnesota
  8. Kentucky
  9. Oregon
  10. Montana
  • (4 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (38 jobs)
  • (10 jobs)
  • (13 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (9 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)

Orthodontist Demographics

Gender

Female

60.0%

Male

24.7%

Unknown

15.4%
Ethnicity

White

54.8%

Hispanic or Latino

19.3%

Black or African American

10.6%

Asian

10.1%

Unknown

5.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

66.7%

Portuguese

4.4%

Chinese

4.4%

French

4.4%

Bulgarian

2.2%

Vietnamese

2.2%

Ukrainian

2.2%

Russian

2.2%

Mandarin

2.2%

Polish

2.2%

Arabic

2.2%

Cantonese

2.2%

Italian

2.2%
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Orthodontist Education

Schools

New York University

11.0%

Howard University

8.5%

University of Connecticut

6.1%

Boston University

6.1%

Saint Louis University-

6.1%

University of Alabama at Birmingham

4.9%

University of Illinois at Chicago

4.9%

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

4.9%

University of California - San Francisco

4.9%

University of Phoenix

4.9%

University of Southern California

4.9%

University of Colorado Denver

4.9%

Central State University

3.7%

University of Rochester

3.7%

Temple University

3.7%

University of California - Los Angeles

3.7%

University of Missouri - Kansas City

3.7%

Tufts University School of Medicine

3.7%

Jacksonville University

3.7%

State University of New York Buffalo School of Dental Medicine

2.4%
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Majors

Advanced Dentistry And Oral Sciences

43.9%

Dental Assisting

10.1%

Business

7.5%

Dentistry

7.2%

Biology

4.3%

Health Care Administration

3.5%

Nuclear And Industrial Radiologic Technologies

2.3%

Nursing

2.3%

Education

2.3%

Liberal Arts

2.3%

Psychology

2.0%

Elementary Education

2.0%

General Studies

2.0%

Medicine

1.7%

English

1.2%

Marketing

1.2%

Medical Assisting Services

1.2%

Criminal Justice

1.2%

Management

0.9%

Public Health

0.9%
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Degrees

Other

31.9%

Certificate

18.3%

Bachelors

15.7%

Masters

12.9%

Associate

11.0%

Doctorate

8.9%

Diploma

0.7%

License

0.5%
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