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How To Become An Orthodontist

Are you ready to take the plunge and make a career out of straightening teeth? If so, then becoming an orthodontist might be the perfect fit for you! Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that specializes in treating bite irregularities, malocclusions (improper bites), and crooked teeth. To become an orthodontist, you’ll need specialized training and knowledge that only comes with completing a degree program as well as certification exams.

The first step to becoming an orthodontist is deciding on a degree program. You’ll want to choose a dental school where you can earn your doctorate in dental surgery or dentistry. After you graduate from dental school, you ’ll need to complete a three-year residency program in orthodontics, which consists of supervised clinical experience as well as classroom instruction. During the first two years of your residency, you’ll typically be required to take courses such as physiology and pharmacology. Your final year will be devoted to clinical practice with patients.

In addition to the educational requirements, you’ll also need to acquire certain skills if you want to become an orthodontist. You must have excellent manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination so that you can properly position braces and adjust them without causing discomfort or damage to the patient’s teeth. You must also possess strong communication skills since you’ll be interacting with patients on a regular basis.

If you are serious about becoming an orthodontist, it’s a good idea to take part in an internship or volunteer program at a dental clinic or hospital. This offers you the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with braces and other orthodontic devices as well as familiarize yourself with the latest dental technology.

Finally, after completing your residency and having acquired the necessary skills, you must pass certification exams before you can become licensed as an orthodontist. Depending on where you live, these tests may be administered by either the American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) or the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Canada (RCDSC). Once you have passed these exams, you’ll have the credentials and experience necessary to start practicing as an orthodontist.

With hard work and dedication, you can become an orthodontist and make a career of helping people straighten their teeth.

Education, Skills, Programs & More

It is not too difficult for anyone to become an orthodontist because any dentist can obtain a specialty in this area after completing their traditional dental training. There are still some prerequisites though such as earning a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree or its equivalent before becoming eligible to earn the specialty certification from the American Board of Orthodontics. In addition, you must have successfully completed one full year of general practice and two years of advanced specialty training so it is important to check all requirements with your licensing board when planning on changing your career path into orthodontics.

There are many reasons why people choose orthodontics as a profession although earning income and helping people with their health and appearance are probably the biggest components. It is also a very rewarding field because you will be able to witness the transformation of your patients from unhappy, unsatisfied before pictures to smiling and confident after pictures. This career path can be especially fulfilling if you enjoy working with children since this age group usually responds better when they feel like an adult is interested in what they are doing or how they look. Getting started as an orthodontist requires more than just being a dentist though; it takes education, a lot of hard work and some sacrifice on your part.

To become a licensed orthodontist you must first earn your Doctor of Dental Medicine degree which involves two to four years of study beyond earning a Bachelor’s degree. You will then need to work under a licensed orthodontist for two years of general practice and at least two additional years of specialty training in orthodontics before you can even apply for the certification examination with the American Board of Orthodontists (ABO). The most common method used to earn the DMD degree is attending dental school through an accredited college that offers this course of study as a part of their curriculum, but students may also be able to earn their DMD qualifications by attending one or more accredited programs that offer distance learning opportunities.

There are no prerequisites required prior to beginning either traditional or non-traditional dental school programs, but it is important to consider these factors when choosing which schools to apply to. For the traditional approach, you will need to consider factors such as cost, financial aid packages that are available, class size and length of time needed to complete the degree, but online programs typically offer more flexibility which is helpful if you have a family or other responsibilities.

Your education as a dentist will also cover basic sciences such as biology, chemistry and physiology while at the same time teaching you about dental materials and techniques. You must successfully complete four years of post-graduate training in order to become a licensed specialist including one year of general practice focusing on oral surgery procedures like removing wisdom teeth before moving on to two additional years of specialty training specific to your chosen area. Depending upon the state where you intend to establish your practice there may be additional requirements for continuing education as well, but this is a good idea in any case.

The general practice training will help you to learn about your profession through working under the supervision of licensed orthodontists who can guide you through your first patient treatments and procedures while the specialty training provides instruction on using X-rays and other diagnostic equipment, performing exams and diagnosing problems with a patient’s mouth or teeth. You must also be prepared to complete cases independently while keeping detailed records as part of these final years when you are already learning so much about your chosen field. There are many orthodontist assistants out there that can assist with recording information during exams and fitting patients with braces after they have been custom-made by an orthodontist.

The certification exam is the final step in becoming an orthodontist. Your education will be evaluated and you must pass this test with a score of 60% or higher before you can even submit your license application to the state medical board where you want to practice. You will then need to apply for your license, complete continuing education requirements and pay a small fee on an annual basis to maintain your status as a licensed orthodontist if all goes well. Specialists who are also dentists must take both exams while those who are not dental doctors only need to take the dentist portion of this test. The ABO offers two general practice tests each year so that prospective specialists have ample opportunities to achieve their goals.

Orthodontists help patients to achieve a beautiful smile that looks natural and healthy. All of these specialties leverage the knowledge of dentistry with orthodontics in order to provide the best treatment options for those who need them.

If you are interested in becoming an orthodontist, check out what programs are available near you and consider starting your education as soon as possible so that you can meet all requirements for licensure within several years after graduating from dental school.

Step-by-Step Guide On How To Become An Orthodontist.

Step 1. Is becoming an orthodontist right for me?

First, you need to ask yourself if becoming an orthodontist is really something that interests you. Keep in mind that the hours can be long and tiring until your business gets established as operating successfully while many new patients will want to know more information about every aspect of this type of treatment before they are comfortable committing to it. You should also think about how being an orthodontist will affect your hobbies and daily routine as well as your earnings potential once these practices are up and running.

There are many people who become full-time specialists while others prefer working part-time so that their hours reflect a more traditional schedule. Many people become adept at time management so they do not feel as though they are missing out on anything by working this type of schedule.

Step 2. Where do I start?

Want to become an orthodontist, where should I start?

Start by searching for the closest dental schools that offer the program you are interested in. While it may be best to continue your training close to home at first, keep in mind that you will most likely have a few years of clinical practice as part of your education before being able to fully treat patients independently. This means that if all goes well and you enjoy being an orthodontist, it’s possible that this could be a career for life!   What theoretical knowledge do I need to learn?

Most programs recommend taking courses such as Biology or chemistry in high school while also gaining experience with computer-assisted design (CAD) software so that you can work with 3D models in college. Some schools may even offer you the option of taking a course in engineering that will help prepare you for CAD classes as well as other skills needed to become an orthodontist.

What types of degrees can I get?

There are currently three options: Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate; although some institutions may now offer DMD programs (Doctor of Dental Medicine). Ideally your education will cover all three types of degrees so that you have a broad knowledge base while also having the skills and experience necessary to provide excellent care. How long is an orthodontic program?

  • While there are no national requirements for time length it should be noted that most accredited programs last at least 4 years, with some states requiring a minimum of 5 to 6 years. This may not seem like a short time but it is important to remember that you will be receiving hands-on training from qualified specialists in your field alongside other medical professionals so that you can become an excellent orthodontist when the program is complete.
  • Depending on the type of degree, most programs last between two and four years depending on how many courses are involved or if extra requirements need to be fulfilled during this time such as publication for master’s students or additional research for doctorate students.
  • When considering both length and content, undergraduate programs require more time than those at the graduate level because they cover everything from history of orthodontics through to current research and practice using a variety of teaching methods. In contrast, graduate programs are more specialized and focus on providing students with the latest information in various areas such as technology, treatment choices or orthodontic management.
  • Master’s level degrees can last from one to three years before you enter a doctoral program while Doctorate students typically spend an additional two-three years studying for their Ph.D. degree in addition to fulfilling all requirements required by their school and state/province to become board certified.

What is involved in getting my education?


Much like medical schools, dental programs stress academic theory both during classes that take place at the institution itself and homework assignments that must be completed. It is not uncommon for students to spend up to 30 hours per week on homework alone so it’s important to make sure that you have the time and dedication needed before enrolling in a program.

Many people are interested in becoming an orthodontist but before applying, they want to know how long it will take and what their responsibilities will be once they graduate? The following guide outlines the entire process of becoming an orthodontist from start to finish.


After completing your courses you will be certified* or licensed by your state dental board prior to entering clinical training.*  You may also be required to practice certain skills within school programs during this time depending on where you learn. Even if you are not required to perform certain tasks, you should try and get involved so that your skills will be better developed when you begin treating patients as an orthodontist.

In some cases the theoretical side of things is put to the test with practical training or internship positions where students can learn more about clinical duties through on-the-job experience. These responsibilities range from clerical work such as filing and billing to assisting larger practices by taking more patients in order to increase their own experience working with patients. It’s also important to remember that these roles may vary depending on where you live and what type of practice you hope to enter once finished with school. Where do I start? (5) Before you begin your program, some of the things you will need to do is prepare for the MCAT or DAT in case you decide to attend a college or university and select a school that not only offers quality education but also has exc

Step 3. What can I do while I’m in school?

While in dental school, you may want to take the time to complete an internship or residency so that you have more hands-on experience by the time you graduate. This is not necessary but it will help round out your education and make it easier for you to practice when working with patients once fully licensed as an orthodontist. Residencies are offered at a number of different hospitals and clinics throughout the country so be sure to look into this option if interested.

Step 4. Licensure and board certification

Once you graduate from dental school, you will need to take specific courses that are required for licensure in your state. You may also need to pass written exams after completing this material before being allowed to practice as a fully licensed specialist. Keep in mind that the length of time it takes to become fully licensed will depend on where you live so plan accordingly if interested in pursuing licensure as soon as possible. You can begin treating patients immediately once accepted into an orthodontic residency but will not be able to work independently until all requirements have been met.

The American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) offers certification programs for qualified specialists such as yourself who want to work towards becoming board-certified in this area. The certification is voluntary but many people feel as though it adds extra credibility to their practices so be sure to look into this option if interested. If you are currently practicing, the process for obtaining this designation can take a few years and even then, continuing education is required on an annual basis in order to keep your board status active.

Step 5. The role of orthodontists

Orthodontists are qualified dentists who also complete training in related areas such as dental surgery or oral pathology as well as clinical practice before being able to treat patients independently with treatments like braces or retainers. Working closely with colleagues from other fields will help you learn how to provide exceptional care while offering your patients a number of options for treatment based on their needs. As technology advances, more people will be able to receive orthodontic care without ever visiting the office and instead by using a combination of treatments in order to eliminate need for braces or other traditional methods of treatment. New methods allow you to use clear aligners similar to those used for adults rather than the traditional metal brackets and wires so that patients can enjoy faster results while also having less pain during treatment. You may even have the option of providing some services online if desired, making it possible for your patients to see you from any location.

Step 6 The job outlook

As more people continue to get braces and other orthodontic devices, whether as children or adults, there will always be a need for dental specialists who can help patients choose the right treatments for their mouths. As technology changes, you will need to keep up with the latest trends in order to provide excellent care and produce results that are pleasing to your patients. No matter what method or procedure your office uses, good communication skills are essential so that you can work well with other professionals that may be working on the same case while also providing information and education for people who wish to learn more about orthodontic treatment before committing to a full course of action.

What’s Next?

Now that you know how long it takes to become an orthodontist and have a better idea of what this career path entails, make sure you find the dental schools where all of this training is offered so that you can choose the right one for you. Understanding the role of orthodontists in society and how this career can make a difference in people’s lives will help your decision-making process so that you can become a highly-respected professional who is truly passionate about their work.

It should also be noted that the information contained within this article regarding the legal requirements to practice as an orthodontist are general guidelines only, please consult with your state or country-specific authorities on requirements prior to enrolling at your chosen institution.