What is an Orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dental specialist who focuses on diagnosing, preventing, and treating dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontic treatment often involves the use of braces, clear aligners, and other dental appliances to correct issues such as misaligned teeth, crowded teeth, overbites, underbites, and other dental problems. Orthodontists also work to correct jaw and facial irregularities that can affect a person's bite and overall dental health.

Orthodontists work with patients of all ages, from children to adults, to create treatment plans that address each patient's unique dental needs and goals. By using advanced technology and techniques, orthodontists are able to provide patients with a comfortable, effective, and personalized treatment experience to help them achieve a healthy and beautiful smile.

What does an Orthodontist do?

An orthodontist talking to a patient about an effective treatment solution for their misalignment.

Duties and Responsibilities
An orthodontist is responsible for providing high-quality orthodontic care to their patients, using a variety of techniques and appliances to correct dental and facial irregularities and help their patients achieve healthy, functional, and attractive smiles. The duties and responsibilities of an orthodontist can include:

  • Conducting Patient Evaluations: Orthodontists must evaluate patients to determine if they require treatment. This typically involves conducting an oral examination, reviewing dental records and X-rays, and taking impressions of the patient's teeth.
  • Developing Treatment Plans: Once a patient has been diagnosed with an orthodontic problem, the orthodontist will develop a customized treatment plan. This may involve recommending braces, aligners, or other orthodontic appliances to correct the issue.
  • Installing and Adjusting Appliances: Orthodontists must install and adjust braces and other orthodontic appliances. This can involve bonding brackets onto the teeth, threading wires through the brackets, and adjusting the tension of the wires to gradually move the teeth into the desired position.
  • Monitoring Treatment Progress: Throughout the course of treatment, the orthodontist must monitor the patient's progress to ensure that the treatment is working as intended. This typically involves regular check-ups and adjustments to the appliances as needed.
  • Providing Patient Education: Orthodontists must educate their patients about proper oral hygiene and care while wearing braces or other appliances. They may also provide dietary advice to help patients avoid damaging their braces or teeth.
  • Collaborating with Other Healthcare Providers: Orthodontists may collaborate with other healthcare providers, such as dentists and oral surgeons, to provide comprehensive care to their patients.
  • Managing Patient Records: Orthodontists must maintain accurate records of their patients' treatment plans, progress, and outcomes. They may also be responsible for managing billing and insurance claims related to their services.

Types of Orthodontists
There are several types of orthodontists who specialize in different areas of orthodontics. These include:

  • Pediatric Orthodontists: These are orthodontists who specialize in treating children and teenagers. They may use braces or other orthodontic appliances to correct misaligned teeth or jaws.
  • Adult Orthodontists: These are orthodontists who specialize in treating adults. They may use braces, clear aligners, or other orthodontic appliances to correct misaligned teeth or jaws in adult patients.
  • Orthodontic Surgeons: These are orthodontists who specialize in orthognathic surgery, which involves correcting severe jaw and facial irregularities.
  • Lingual Orthodontists: These are orthodontists who specialize in lingual braces, which are braces that are placed on the inside of the teeth.
  • Invisalign Orthodontists: These are orthodontists who specialize in clear aligners, such as Invisalign, which are clear plastic trays that are worn over the teeth to gradually move them into the desired position.
  • TMJ Orthodontists: These are orthodontists who specialize in treating temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, which can cause pain and discomfort in the jaw.

Are you suited to be an orthodontist?

Orthodontists have distinct personalities. They tend to be investigative individuals, which means they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive. They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. Some of them are also social, meaning they’re kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if orthodontist is one of your top career matches.

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What is the workplace of an Orthodontist like?

The workplace of an orthodontist is diverse and can be influenced by various factors, including the type of practice, the employment setting, and the individual preferences of the orthodontist. Many orthodontists choose to establish their own private practices, providing them with a sense of autonomy and the ability to make independent clinical and business decisions. In a private practice, orthodontists often manage their offices, oversee staff, and establish their patient base, creating a personalized and entrepreneurial work environment.

Alternatively, orthodontists may opt to work in group practices, collaborating with general dentists and other specialists. Group practices offer a team-oriented setting, allowing for shared resources, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and a broader range of dental services under one roof. Some orthodontists may choose to work in hospital settings or medical centers, particularly when their orthodontic expertise complements broader medical care. This environment may involve collaboration with other healthcare professionals and exposure to a diverse patient population.

Academic institutions, including dental schools and universities, also provide a unique workplace for orthodontists. In these settings, orthodontists balance clinical practice with teaching responsibilities and research endeavors. They contribute to dental education, mentor students, and engage in scholarly activities that advance the field of orthodontics. Additionally, orthodontists may find opportunities to work in specialized orthodontic clinics that focus exclusively on orthodontic care, providing a dedicated environment for comprehensive treatments and consultations.

Regardless of the setting, technology plays a significant role in the workplace of an orthodontist. Advanced tools, such as digital imaging and computer-aided design (CAD), are often integrated into the diagnostic and treatment planning processes. Patient interaction is a central aspect of the work, involving consultations, assessments, and ongoing monitoring throughout the course of orthodontic treatment. In private practice, orthodontists may also engage in business management tasks, including marketing strategies to attract new patients, financial management, and staff supervision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Doctor Specializations and Degrees

The following is a comprehensive list of the various specializations that a doctor can pursue and a brief summary of each specialization:

  • Allergist: An allergist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies, asthma, and related conditions. Allergists have specialized training in the recognition and management of allergic reactions.
  • Anesthesiologist: An anesthesiologist keeps a patient comfortable, safe and pain-free during surgery by administering local or general anesthetic.
  • Cardiologist: A cardiologist specializes in finding, treating, and preventing diseases that affect the heart, the arteries, and the veins.
  • Cardiothoracic Surgeon: A cardiothoracic surgeon specializes in surgical procedures inside the thorax (the chest), which may involve the heart, lungs, esophagus, and other organs in the chest. As well as performing surgery, they also diagnose and treat diseases of these organs.
  • Chiropractic Neurologist: A chiropractic neurologist is a specialized type of chiropractor who has undergone additional training in the field of neurology. They diagnose and treat conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the nervous system.
  • Chiropractor: A chiropractor, or doctor of chiropractic medicine, specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous system, especially in the spine. Treatment is usually physical manipulation of the joints and the spine to bring them back into alignment. A chiropractor does not perform surgery or prescribe medication.
  • Colorectal Surgeon: A colorectal surgeon specializes in diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus, as well as the entire gastric tract. These surgeons work closely with urologists, who handle the urogenital tract in males and the urinary tract of women, gynecologists, who deal with specific female issues, and gastroenterologists, who deal with diseases of the gut.
  • Doctor: An general overview of what a doctor does and how to become one.
  • Dentist: Dentists identify potential oral health issues such as gum disease, as well as examine patients, order medical tests and determine the correct diagnosis and treatment. They also perform oral surgery and remove teeth or address other dental health problems.
  • Dermatologist: A dermatologist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions affecting skin, hair, sweat and oil glands, nails, and mucus membranes (inside the mouth, nose, and eyelids) which can include cancer.
  • Emergency Medicine Physician: An emergency medicine physician works in emergency departments, hospitals, and urgent care clinics, and is often the first medical professional that patients see when they are in need of urgent medical care.
  • Endocrinologist: An endocrinologist specializes in diagnosing conditions and diseases related to the glands and hormones. While primary care doctors know a lot about the human body, for conditions and diseases directly related to glands and hormones they will typically send a patient to an endocrinologist.
  • Family Practitioner: A family practitioner specializes in caring for the entire family. Patients can be children, adults, and the elderly, and are treated for a wide array of medical issues.
  • Forensic Pathologist: A forensic pathologist investigates the cause of sudden and unexpected deaths, and is able to determine how a person died by performing an autopsy and studying tissue and laboratory results. These doctors are often called upon to provide evidence in court regarding the cause and time of such deaths.
  • Gastroenterologist: A gastroenterologist has specific training in diagnosing and treating conditions and diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This may include diseases and disorders that affect the the biliary system (liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and bile ducts), as well as the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine (colon).
  • Geriatrician: A geriatrician specializes in the care of elderly patients, and often works with patients who have multiple chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as age-related cognitive and functional impairments.
  • Gynecologist: A gynecologist specializes in women's reproductive systems. Gynecologists are also sometimes certified as obstetricians, and will monitor the health of the mother and the fetus during a pregnancy.
  • Hematologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of blood disorders, such as anemia and leukemia.
  • Hospitalist: A hospitalist is a physician whose focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Their duties include patient care, teaching, research, and leadership related to hospital medicine.
  • Immunologist: An immunologist specializes in managing problems related to the immune system, such as allergies and autoimmune diseases. A smaller number of immunologists are strictly researchers seeking to better understand how the immune system works and to help develop better ways of diagnosing and providing treatment for many immunological conditions.
  • Infectious Disease Specialist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis.
  • Internist: An internist is a 'doctor of internal medicine' who can diagnose, treat, and practice compassionate care for adults across the spectrum, from health to complex illness. They are not to be mistaken with "interns," who are doctors in their first year of residency training.
  • Medical Examiner: Medical examiners are responsible for performing autopsies and collecting evidence related to the circumstances of a death, including medical history, physical examination findings, and toxicology tests.
  • Naturopathic Physician: A naturopathic physician blends modern scientific medical practice and knowledge with natural and traditional forms of medical treatment. The goal is to treat the underlying causes of disease while stimulating the body's own healing abilities.
  • Nephrologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. They treat conditions such as chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, kidney stones, hypertension, and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Neurologist: A neurologist specializes in treating diseases that affect the human nervous system. It is a very prestigious and difficult medical specialty due to the complexity of the nervous system, which consists of the brain, the spinal cord and the peripheral nerves.
  • Neurosurgeon: A neurosurgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system. This includes congenital anomalies, trauma, tumours, vascular disorders, infections of the brain or spine, stroke, or degenerative diseases of the spine.
  • Obstetrician: An obstetrician is a medical doctor who specializes in caring for women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.
  • Occupational Physician: Occupational medicine is focused on keeping individuals well at work, both mentally and physically. As workplaces become more complex, occupational physicians play an important role in advising people on how their work can affect their health.
  • Oncologist: An oncologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The three primary types of oncologists are: medical oncologists that specialize in the administration of drugs to kill cancer cells; surgical oncologists that perform surgical procedures to identify and remove cancerous tumors; and radiation oncologists that treat cancer with radiation therapy.
  • Ophthalmologist: An ophthalmologist is a specialist that deals specifically with the structure, function, diseases, and treatment of the eye. Due to the complexities and the importance of the eye as a special sense that provides vision, the discipline of ophthalmology is dedicated solely to this organ.
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: An oral and maxillofacial surgeon treats dental and medical problems involving the oral cavity and the maxillofacial area. The maxillofacial area includes the bones of the forehead, face, cheekbones and the soft tissues. Treatment often involves performing surgery and related procedures to treat diseases, defects, or injuries, and to improve function or appearance.
  • Orthodontist: An orthodontist specializes in how the jaws and teeth are aligned. They help people whose teeth are misaligned or require some kind of correction – those with an improper bite, or malocclusion.
  • Orthopedic Surgeon / Orthopedist: An orthopaedic surgeon (or orthopedist) examines, diagnoses, and treats diseases and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. This system includes the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves.
  • Osteopath: Osteopaths have attended and graduated from an osteopathic medical school and practise the system of healthcare known as osteopathy. They consider all aspects of the patient, not just the symptoms they exhibit. They see the integrated nature of the body’s organ systems and its capacity for self-regulation and self-healing.
  • Otolaryngologist: Otolaryngologists (or ENT physicians) are specialists trained in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head and neck. These specialists are trained in both medicine and surgery.
  • Pathologist: A pathologist studies the causes, nature, and effects of disease. The field of pathology is broad with concentrations on changes in cells, tissues, and organs that are the result of a disease.
  • Pediatrician: A pediatrician specializes in providing medical care to infants, children and teenagers by administering treatments, therapies, medications and vaccinations to treat illness, disorders or injuries.
  • Periodontist: A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in oral inflammation, and who knows how to prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease.
  • Plastic Surgeon: A plastic surgeon specializes in reshaping healthy body parts for aesthetic reasons, and also in repairing or replacing body parts damaged by accidents, illness or malformation.
  • Podiatrist: A podiatrist practices podiatric medicine, which is a branch of science devoted to the diagnosis, treatment and study of medical disorders of the foot, ankle, lower leg and lower back. In the U.S. and Canada, podiatry is practiced as a specialty.
  • Prosthodontist: A prosthodontist specializes in restoring the look, function, comfort, and health of a patient's oral cavity with artificial materials. These artificial materials are made up of a wide variety of restorations that include fillings, dentures, veneers, crowns, bridges and oral implants.
  • Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists are physicians who evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who are affected by a temporary or chronic mental health problem.
  • Pulmonologist: A pulmonologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary (lung) conditions and diseases of the chest, particularly pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, emphysema, and complicated chest infections.
  • Radiologist: A radiologist is a specialist in interpreting medical images that may be obtained with x-rays, (CT scans or radiographs), nuclear medicine (involving radioactive substances, magnetism (MRI), or ultrasound.
  • Rheumatologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
  • Sports Medicine Physician: A sports medicine physician specializes in taking care of people who have sports injuries that may be acquired from playing sports, exercising, or from otherwise being physically active.
  • Surgeon: A surgeon performs surgery for the purpose of removing diseased tissue or organs, to repair body systems, or to replace diseased organs with transplants.
  • Telemedicine Physician: A telemedicine physician provides remote healthcare services to patients using telecommunications technology, facilitating virtual consultations, diagnoses, and treatment recommendations.
  • Urologist: A urologist specializes in the treatment of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs. Urologists can treat the kidneys, urinary bladder, urethra, uterus, and male reproductive organs. There are also specific specialty areas that urologists may choose to focus on, such as pediatric urology, male infertility, and urologic oncology.
  • Vascular Medicine Specialist - A vascular medicine specialist specializes in the diagnosis and nonsurgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels. They may work with patients who have conditions such as deep vein thrombosis, peripheral artery disease, or pulmonary embolism.
  • Vascular Surgeon - A vascular surgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels, including aneurysms, peripheral artery disease, and varicose veins.
  • Veterinary Dentist - A veterinary dentist is a specialized veterinarian who focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of dental diseases and conditions in animals. They perform dental procedures such as cleanings, extractions, and oral surgeries to improve the oral health and well-being of pets and other animals.


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See Also
Doctor Allergist Anesthesiologist Cardiologist Cardiothoracic Surgeon Chiropractor Colorectal Surgeon Dentist Dermatologist Emergency Medicine Physician Endocrinologist Family Practitioner Forensic Pathologist Gastroenterologist Geriatrician Gynecologist Hematologist Hospitalist Immunologist Infectious Disease Specialist Internist Medical Examiner Naturopathic Physician Nephrologist Neurologist Neurosurgeon Obstetrician Occupational Physician Oncologist Ophthalmologist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Orthopedic Surgeon Orthopedist Osteopath Otolaryngologist Pathologist Pediatrician Periodontist Plastic Surgeon Podiatrist Prosthodontist Psychiatrist Pulmonologist Radiologist Rheumatologist Sports Medicine Physician Surgeon Urologist Vascular Medicine Specialist Vascular Surgeon Chiropractic Neurologist Veterinary Dentist Telemedicine Physician

Pros and Cons of Being an Orthodontist

Becoming an orthodontist offers numerous rewards, but like any profession, it comes with its own set of challenges. Here are some pros and cons of being an orthodontist:


  • Job Satisfaction: Helping patients achieve a healthy and beautiful smile can be incredibly rewarding, leading to high levels of job satisfaction.
  • Financial Rewards: Orthodontists typically earn a competitive salary. Those in private practice may have the potential for high earnings, especially as their practice grows.
  • Autonomy in Practice: Many orthodontists work in private practice, providing them with the autonomy to make clinical and business decisions.
  • Diverse Career Paths: Orthodontists can pursue various career paths, including private practice, academia, research, or working in multidisciplinary dental clinics.
  • Steady Demand for Services: The demand for orthodontic services remains relatively stable, with a consistent need for corrective treatments.
  • Continual Learning: The field of orthodontics evolves, providing opportunities for continual learning and staying updated on new technologies and treatment methodologies.
  • Positive Patient Relationships: Building long-term relationships with patients and witnessing the positive impact of orthodontic treatment can be fulfilling.


  • Extensive Education and Training: Becoming an orthodontist requires many years of education, including a bachelor's degree, dental school, and a postgraduate orthodontic residency.
  • Financial Investment: The cost of dental school and orthodontic residency can result in significant student loan debt.
  • Time-Intensive Treatment Plans: Orthodontic treatment plans often require an extended commitment from patients, and achieving desired results can take months or even years.
  • Business Management Challenges: Orthodontists in private practice need to manage various aspects of their business, including finances, staff, and patient scheduling.
  • Market Competition: In areas with a high concentration of orthodontists, competition for patients can be intense, requiring effective marketing strategies.
  • Physical Demands: Performing orthodontic procedures may involve long hours and physical demands, such as standing for extended periods.
  • Insurance Challenges: Navigating insurance processes and dealing with reimbursement challenges can be time-consuming and complex.
  • Patient Compliance: Success in orthodontic treatment relies on patient compliance with prescribed guidelines, and motivating patients to follow treatment plans can be challenging.
  • Technological Investments: Staying current with advancements in orthodontic technology may require significant investments in equipment and training.
  • Ethical Dilemmas: Ethical considerations, such as balancing patient needs with financial considerations, may present challenges.

Orthodontists are also known as:
Orthodontics Specialist