Average Salary
$214,878
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
7%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
1,086
Job Openings

Orthodontist Careers

Orthodontists are dental specialists who are trained in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. They provide a wide range of treatment options to straighten teeth, fix bad bites, and align jaws correctly. They typically deal with hardware, such as retainers or headgear, with the goal of treating the irregularity.

Some duties of an orthodontist include examining patients, assessing abnormalities in the mouth, teeth, or jaw, using diagnostic tools such as x-rays and teeth molds, recommending surgery, monitoring the treatment process, and researching new developments in oral technology. Becoming an orthodontist requires years of dedication. A bachelor's degree meets the requirements for admission into dental school. After studying, you'll need to complete a residency and gain certification by passing dental and orthodontics licensing exams. Becoming an orthodontist usually takes over a decade, or more.

There's more to this position than a lot of studying and looking into people's mouths. The average hourly salary for an orthodontist is $85.35, which equates to $177,000 annually. Once qualified, the monetary gains are generous, and the career is expected to grow 7% in the next few years.

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.

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 Salary
$214,878
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
7%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
1,086
Job Openings

Orthodontist Career Paths

Top Careers Before Orthodontist

Dentist
13.3 %

Top Careers After Orthodontist

Dentist
6.2 %

Orthodontist Jobs You Might Like

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Average Salary for an Orthodontist

Orthodontists in America make an average salary of $214,878 per year or $103 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $335,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $137,000 per year.
Average Salary
$214,878
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Best Paying Cities For Orthodontists

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Fort Wayne, IN
Salary Range159k - 318k$225k$225,215
Oklahoma City, OK
Salary Range157k - 319k$224k$224,315
Roswell, NM
Salary Range155k - 317k$222k$221,981
Las Vegas, NV
Salary Range152k - 318k$220k$220,298
Lawrence, MA
Salary Range156k - 306k$219k$218,925
Lansing, MI
Salary Range154k - 309k$219k$218,677
Denver, CO
Salary Range149k - 304k$213k$213,120
Lubbock, TX
Salary Range147k - 300k$211k$210,545
Elgin, IL
Salary Range146k - 289k$206k$206,423
West Haven, CT
Salary Range145k - 288k$205k$204,891
Bakersfield, CA
Salary Range141k - 295k$205k$204,706
Phoenix, AZ
Salary Range137k - 286k$199k$198,701
Puyallup, WA
Salary Range140k - 275k$197k$196,940
Glen Burnie, MD
Salary Range133k - 264k$188k$188,005
Roanoke, VA
Salary Range131k - 265k$187k$186,781
Miami, FL
Salary Range126k - 267k$184k$184,026
White Plains, NY
Salary Range128k - 255k$181k$181,446
$126k
$319k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Orthodontist
Orthodontist
Great Expressions Dental Centers
Great Expressions Dental Centers
08/05/2021
08/05/2021
$391,31308/05/2021
$391,313
Orthodontist
Orthodontist
Delta Companies
Delta Companies
08/05/2021
08/05/2021
$200,00008/05/2021
$200,000
Orthodontist-Locum Coverage-Immediate Start-Atlanta Suburbs
Orthodontist-Locum Coverage-Immediate Start-Atlanta Suburbs
Alumni Healthcare Staffing
Alumni Healthcare Staffing
08/04/2021
08/04/2021
$333,92008/04/2021
$333,920
Orthodontist
Orthodontist
Gentle Dental
Gentle Dental
08/02/2021
08/02/2021
$400,00008/02/2021
$400,000
Locum Orthodontist Days Per Week
Locum Orthodontist Days Per Week
Hero Practice Services
Hero Practice Services
07/16/2021
07/16/2021
$391,31307/16/2021
$391,313
See More Recent Salaries

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Orthodontist Demographics

Gender

female

63.2 %

male

26.8 %

unknown

10.0 %

Ethnicity

White

72.2 %

Asian

14.7 %

Hispanic or Latino

7.7 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

66.7 %

Portuguese

4.4 %

Chinese

4.4 %
Show More Orthodontist Demographics

Orthodontist Education

Degrees

Bachelors

29.4 %

Doctorate

22.2 %

Masters

12.5 %

Top Colleges for Orthodontists

1. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

2. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

New Brunswick, NJ • Private

In-State Tuition
$14,974
Enrollment
35,656

3. Augusta University

Augusta, GA • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,604
Enrollment
5,146

4. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

5. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

6. Case Western Reserve University

Cleveland, OH • Private

In-State Tuition
$49,042
Enrollment
5,131

7. University of Washington

Seattle, WA • Private

In-State Tuition
$11,207
Enrollment
30,905

8. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,948
Enrollment
17,238

9. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

10. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN • Private

In-State Tuition
$14,760
Enrollment
31,451
Show More Orthodontist Education Requirements

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Top Skills For an Orthodontist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 22.3% of orthodontists listed dental procedures on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and detail oriented are important as well.

Best States For an Orthodontist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an orthodontist. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. Orthodontists make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $215,386. Whereas in North Dakota and Nebraska, they would average $202,341 and $188,890, respectively. While orthodontists would only make an average of $184,798 in Wisconsin, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Alaska

Total Orthodontist Jobs:
4
Highest 10% Earn:
$286,000
Location Quotient:
2.34
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Wisconsin

Total Orthodontist Jobs:
25
Highest 10% Earn:
$271,000
Location Quotient:
2.21
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Mississippi

Total Orthodontist Jobs:
11
Highest 10% Earn:
$269,000
Location Quotient:
2.53
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Orthodontists

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Top Orthodontist Employers

1. Western Dental Services
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$195,407
Orthodontists Hired: 
44+
2. Kool Smiles
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$233,954
Orthodontists Hired: 
21+
3. Bright Now! Dental
3.8
Avg. Salary: 
$231,691
Orthodontists Hired: 
8+
4. American Dental Group
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$234,020
Orthodontists Hired: 
7+
5. RMO
3.1
Avg. Salary: 
$184,730
Orthodontists Hired: 
6+
6. David M. Schwarz
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$170,895
Orthodontists Hired: 
3+

Orthodontist Videos