How to Become an Orthodontist?

February 05, 2023 · 3 min read

An orthodontist is a dental specialist who focuses on correcting improper bites and straightening teeth through the use of braces, retainers, and other orthodontic appliances. Orthodontic treatment is typically recommended for children and teenagers, but adults can also benefit from orthodontic care. Orthodontists use a variety of techniques to address a wide range of orthodontic problems, including crowded teeth, overbites, underbites, crossbites, open bites, and more.

Orthodontic treatment can be time-consuming, but the end result is a healthier, more attractive smile. If you or a family member is interested in orthodontic treatment, an orthodontist can provide a complete evaluation and develop a customized treatment plan to meet your specific needs.


How to become an Orthodontist?

Becoming an orthodontist involves several steps:

  1. Undergraduate education: To become an orthodontist, you must first complete a bachelor's degree program. There are no specific undergraduate majors required for orthodontics, but many students choose to pursue a degree in a related field such as biology or chemistry.
  2. Dental school: After completing an undergraduate degree, you must then attend dental school. Dental school typically takes four years to complete and includes both classroom instruction and clinical experience.
  3. Orthodontic Residency: After completing dental school, you must then complete an orthodontic residency program. These programs typically last two to three years and provide advanced training in orthodontics.
  4. Board certification: After completing an orthodontic residency, you must pass the American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) certification exam to become a board-certified orthodontist.
  5. Continuing education: Orthodontists are required to maintain their certification by completing continuing education courses throughout their careers.

In total, becoming an orthodontist typically takes around 11 to 14 years of education and training after high school. It's a long journey but the end result is a rewarding career helping people to have a better smile and a better bite.


In addition to the steps outlined above, there are a few other things to consider when pursuing a career in orthodontics:

  1. Research: Before committing to a career in orthodontics, it's important to research the field and learn as much as possible about what orthodontists do and what the profession entails. This can include reading about orthodontics, speaking with practicing orthodontists, and observing orthodontic procedures.
  2. Shadowing an orthodontist: Shadowing an orthodontist is a great way to gain firsthand experience and get a sense of what a day in the life of an orthodontist is like. Many dental schools offer shadowing opportunities, and many orthodontists are willing to have students shadow them.
  3. Volunteer or internship opportunities: Many dental schools, orthodontic residency programs, and orthodontic offices offer to volunteer or internship opportunities. This can be a great way to gain experience and make connections in the field.
  4. Financing your education: Orthodontic education is costly, and many students rely on financial aid, loans, scholarships, and other forms of funding to pay for their education. It's important to research the available options and plan accordingly.
  5. Licensing: Each state has its own licensing requirements for orthodontists. Be sure to research the licensing requirements in the state where you plan to practice and make sure that you meet all the necessary requirements.
  6. Professional organizations: Joining professional organizations such as the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) can be a valuable resource for networking, continuing education, and staying up-to-date on the latest developments in the field.

Becoming an orthodontist is a long-term commitment that requires a significant investment of time and money. However, many orthodontists find it a highly rewarding career that allows them to make a positive impact on people's lives by giving them a beautiful smile.

by Olena Kukhtyk

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