What is an orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dental specialist who works to correct or prevent the misalignment of your jaws and teeth called malocclusions or bad bite. They also correct and prevent faulty occlusions which are the irregular contact of opposing teeth in the lower and upper jaws. This is the type of dental specialist that a person would see for health and cosmetic reasons. These irregularities in the teeth can cause low self esteem, insecurity, and can affect their ability to speak and chew. They can also cause breathing problems like sleep apnea or snoring. An orthodontist will see people of all ages from children to the elderly.
Job description of an orthodontist
The basic job description of an orthodontist is to straighten crooked teeth, straighten crooked jaws, helping to correct a patient’s protruding teeth, shifting jaws, chewing problems, facial asymmetry, etc. They will also need to know how to use an x-ray machine and read the x-rays, and how to make a plaster mold of the patient’s mouth and teeth. Many times an orthodontist will consult with other dental specialists like a dental surgeon to find alternative ways of treating their patients. In addition to having to know how to use an x-ray machine they will also use drills, mouth mirrors, scalpels, probes, braces, and forceps. An orthodontist will wear protective clothing as gloves and masks to protect their patients and themselves from infections.
If an orthodontist has a private practice they may also be responsible for administration work, hiring employees, accounting, scheduling, ordering supplies, etc. They are also responsible for keeping their equipment clean and in good working order. An orthodontist will also have to take measurements of the patient’s oral cavity in order to design labial and lingual arch wires and also make space maintainers that patients with misshaped or irregular teeth will need. To help hasten the healing process the orthodontist will prescribe medications and analgesics. They also need to have excellent communicating skills with the patients and staff, especially when the patients are children. They need to know how to talk to them because most of the time they are scared and they need to know what is going on and be kept calm without hysterics.
How to become an orthodontist?
If you have decided that you want to become an orthodontist while in high school or before, you want to make sure that your classes include biology, general science, chemistry, math, and physics. If you plan to open your own practice you may want to take some computer and business courses. Once you have graduated high school you need to enroll in college to get your bachelor’s degree in pre-dental science with classes in biology, regular and organic chemistry, English, and physics. You need to make sure that you are trying to gain admission into a dental school that is accredited by the American Dental Association. You will have to take the Dental Admission Test (DAT) and pass with a high grade, have a good GPA in high school and college, an interview with the admission board, and letters of recommendation. The reason this is all necessary is that this is a competitive field and with there being only 56 accredited dental schools in the United States you want to ensure that your chances of being accepted are high.
Dental school is 4 years with the first 2 years spent in laboratory and classroom studies in classes like anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathology, genetics, anesthesia, radiology and more. The last 2 years is clinical work under the supervision of a licensed dentist. When you graduate from dental school you will either have a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or a DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine). Many times dental school programs will require you to pass a criminal background check in order to determine if you are eligible for future licensure. To get your degree you will have to pass a practical and written exam. The next step to become an orthodontist is to complete a 2 year residency program where you will have training in a clinical environment to become an orthodontist under the supervision of a licensed dentist or orthodontist.
You will get your training through courses like orthodontic theory and cranio-facial anatomy along with orthodontics research and clinical rotations. When you finish this residency you will have a Master’s Degree in Orthodontics. You will now need another license in order to practice in this specialty. You will have to take the National Board Examination which is a written and practical exam. There may also be additional requirements that you must meet before getting your license in some states so you need to check to see if there are any additional requirements such as being certified in CPR and first aid.
You must also pass the National Board Dental Examinations that is administered by the state board where you will practice. If an orthodontists wants to they can pursue optional certification through the American Board of Orthodontics or the National Board of Orthodontics. The National Board of Orthodontics certification renewal is done by meeting the continuing education requirements. The American Board of Orthodontics requires you to take periodically re-certification exams to renew their certificate. Each state has their own requirements as to what is needed to be done to be re-certified and keep your license. For example, if you have to have continuing education credits in Arizona you would need 72 credits every 3 years while in North Carolina they have to complete 15 credit every year.
Work environment and schedule
When becoming an orthodontist they will open their own private practice, work in an established clinic or practice, or work in a specialty group practice. They do not have to work odd hours, work weekends and nights, or be on call. They also get work in a clean comfortable office and work Monday thru Friday with normal business hours.
Almost all their patients are referrals from general practice dentists. After referring the patient to an orthodontist they will usually send over a copy of the patient’s medical record and any tests or x-rays that were taken. The scheduler will call and give the patient an appointment and when they arrive they will have to fill out paperwork. Once they are back in the exam room the assistant will make sure that the patient is comfortable, that everything the orthodontist will need is on a tray, and will do any x-rays that the orthodontist requires.
When the orthodontist comes into the exam room they will ask the patient some questions to make sure that they are seeing the right patient. The orthodontist will ask the patient their pain level, if they are having any symptoms and if yes, what they are, and then the orthodontist will do an oral exam in order to diagnosis the problem and decide on a treatment plan. Before implementing the treatment plan the orthodontist will check the patient’s medical history to make sure that there are no pre-existing conditions or allergies that could affect the treatment plan and the patient.
The patient may have been referred to an orthodontist because they have open bites, under and over bites, cross bites, and more. They problems that the patient may have could be caused by a variety of things such as these dental problems run in the family is one of the biggest reasons. This could be because they lost their baby teeth too early, overcrowding of the patient’s teeth, bone structure of their jaws, accidents or injuries, tooth decay and more. If they are seeing a child it is best that they see them before the age of 7 before all of their permanent teeth come in. Early intervention takes advantage of the jaw bones still growing and the pending eruption of all their permanent teeth can make any corrections go more quickly and smoothly.
In order to get the correct diagnosis the orthodontist will take x-rays and have the patient bite down into a mold. This is to help the orthodontist determine the specific alignment of their teeth. They can correct, or treat, varies problems by using braces, retainers, or other devices in order to guide or realign teeth that are coming in, especially in children. If the malocclusions are severe the orthodontist may have to break the jaw bone and then wire the jaw shut so it will heal better aligned.
Pros and cons of being an Orthodontist
The field of oral health care is filled with professionals that have years and years of education and experience. Among other facts that will allow you to take the best decision of becoming or not an orthodontists is the feeling that you can become one of the best specialists in your area. They are well specialized in this field, and their main rewarding is to offer their patients a long-lasting process of jaw realignment that can be done according to every patient. Your teeth will never have been safer than in the hands of these professionals.
The salary of an orthodontist is very high compared with the salary of other specialists in the field of dentistry. For instance, those who work as orthodontists will gain a certain wage. Such a salary in the US, per average, is estimated at $196,276 per year. Those who fulfill other areas of specialty such as the area of general dentistry will reach a salary of about $164,572 per year.
The figures are higher, even though the work can sometimes have some boredom in it according to the fact that a treatment that involves jaw realignment and teeth can last up to several years. The top orthodontists if not all of them find rewarding the last part of the treatment seeing their patients’ trust and confidence in themselves grow a lot by having a beautiful smile and great teeth.
What is not so pleasant is the higher cost that are brought into the discussion when it all reduces to the educational requirements. An 0rthodontist must have more education than a general dentist; the process starts with completing an undergraduate degree and then moving to a three to five years of accredited school program. These programs are organized by the American Dental Association, and you could add as well at the end of your path a two to three years of advanced orthodontic training to obtain certification.
The orthodontic programs will vary and the prices for enrolling into one as well but usually they are expensive and at the end of your training you can have a really huge debt to pay. Your advanced training can lead you to proper knowledge on how to solve the hardest cases, but the stress and pressure factors also increase while working in this field. Many times you’ll be put in front of some unhappy parents or even patients when you see that the recommended treatment hasn’t worked as you’ve expected.
Orthodontist job growth
For the succeeding ten years or more, there is an estimated job growth for orthodontists with an increased rate comprised between 15%-16%. These presented percentages are mainly due to the number of demanding in this field and the number of positions available. There will always be people in need for these specialists since the nature of this job plays a very important part and vital as well in the medical system.
The employment rate of orthodontists will not be able expected to keep up with all the increased numbers of demanding for the orthodontic services. There are still plenty of areas in the US where patients are in need for dental services, but they don’t have full access to them or they don’t have access at all.
Starting out the average yearly orthodontist salary is approximately $63,322 but what it will be exactly depends on the geographical location and the work environment.
The average yearly salary of an orthodontist in various work environments is:
- $88,769-$255,321 employed at an orthodontist office
- $153,200-$202,261 employed in the health care industry
The lowest paid average yearly salary of an orthodontist is $100,000 and the highest average yearly salary is $300,000 but there have been reports of some with lots of experience making over $612,000. There is also a difference between the salaries of a man and a woman. On average the yearly orthodontist salary for a man is $81,546-$391,486 and for a woman her average yearly orthodontist salary is $106,125-$178,039.
The average yearly orthodontist salary according to the number of years of experience is:
- $93,981-$246,884 with 1-4 years of experience
- $79,463-$295,898 with 5-9 years of experience
- $81,389-$221,093 with 10-19 years of experience
- $77,281-$229,353 with 20 years or more of experience
The top 5 states with the average yearly orthodontist salary are:
- $239,510 in Texas
- $222,420 in New Jersey
- $200,200 in Massachusetts
- $165,960 in California
- $162,658 in Florida
In addition to the salary there is also the benefit package that you can receive if you are not running your own private practice. This benefit package can include paid vacation days that can add up to a number of weeks off, paid sick days, paid personal days, 401K, social security, retirement, health and life insurance that could cover your family or just the orthodontist, vision and dental care, profit sharing, uniform cost, malpractice insurance, and more.
Salary of an Orthodontist in 2015
The orthodontist Salary in the US can be estimated at an annual wage that reaches $206,196 per year. Those who work in the top ten percent will earn a salary that can reach about $612,513 per year and even more. In 2015, the salaries of these professionals are influenced by the lowest and the highest points of the work, their experience in this field, and, of course, the facility in which you are working.
Salaries tend to increase or decrease also according to the number of demands and if you are truly good then you can form your own clientele, or in some cases even open your own practice.
Orthodontist Salary in 2016
The factors that affect and impact the 0rthodontist salary for the year 2016, in the United States, are according to the geographical location, the years of working experience, and the type of employment in which one has found work. Another factor that contributes to the incomes of these professionals are the skills that they possess.
In this field of orthodontists, you can easily transform your job into a profitable business, this meaning that you’ll need your own private practice or you can associate with other specialists. You will also need an already formed clientele and more than this you’ll need to take into consideration the factor of money. The beginning is always tough since you’ll need to make some huge investments.
If you choose this path of building your own practice then make sure that you are really competent at what you are doing in order to attract clientele and then establish your location if you can in states that pay for this group higher. The highest paying states can be found in New Jersey and Texas, this is due to the high living expenses and the good costs of living.
As an orthodontist, you should keep in mind that when you are choosing the geographical location, the rural areas incomes are different than those that are earned in the big cities. Orthodontists incomes will also vary according to each state- the income will have lower and higher points- and each region.
The salary of an orthodontist is also influenced based on the level of education that one has received. You can even start to gain more in the beginning due to a higher educational level with training that will grant you the necessary knowledge to advanced career opportunities.
However don’t imagine that your salary will be very higher, it will increase gradually as you advance and more patients will come to you. After some surveys, the average income in 2016 for orthodontists in the US is estimated to be at around $197,380 per year. The median income in the US for these professionals is estimated to be at around $152,389 per year according to surveys.
All the salaries for orthodontists will vary a lot according to the early mentioned factors and other as well that are to be found in the benefits packages that are usually granted by the employers.
Orthodontist salary in Canada, Australia and UK
- UK—the average yearly orthodontist salary is 64,000-91,00 but ones who just got their license start working as an associate with an average yearly salary of 31,000. An orthodontist with many years of experience can earn an average yearly salary of 100,000 or more. If they have their own private practice they can earn an average yearly salary of 200,000 or more.
- Canada—the average yearly salary as an orthodontist is CAD$140,000
- Australia—the average yearly orthodontist salary is AU$75,000-AU$251,000
Conclusion on orthodontist salary
Starting out the average yearly orthodontist salary is approximately $63,322 which is not a lot considering all the schooling and training you had to go through to become an orthodontist but as you gain experience the salary will increase. Also in today’s society almost everyone values vanity and the orthodontist can help provide them with a beautiful smile. Because it seems that with most everyone vanity is important so getting into the field of orthodontics would be a good career choice as with each passing year the need for them increases. It is a very competitive field even though it is not one of the highest salaries in the dental and medical field. Although the starting salary is on the low side you can see that it is a very good paying field with the lowest 10% having an average yearly salary of $102,150 and the highest 10% having an average yearly salary of $420,00 so it is possible to earn a decent salary being an orthodontist.
There is also the benefit package to consider as with paid vacation days this could me one week off with pay to several weeks of paid vacation, health and life insurance that is usually included in the package and could include the orthodontist entire family. As with any job it will take a while to reach a higher salary but being an orthodontist and the vanity need some people have, this is a job that will give you job security.
- First Published Date: 2 July, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 19 August, 2016