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 receive specialized training beyond their general dentistry education, usually requiring two to three years of additional training in an accredited orthodontic residency program. They are highly skilled in the use of orthodontic appliances and techniques to correct a wide range of dental and facial issues. They 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?
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:
- Traditional Orthodontists: These are orthodontists who specialize in traditional braces and other orthodontic appliances, such as wires and brackets.
- 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.
What is the workplace of an Orthodontist like?
Orthodontists typically work in a private practice setting, either as solo practitioners or as part of a group practice. Their workplace can vary, but it usually includes an office with one or more treatment rooms equipped with dental chairs and orthodontic equipment.
The office of an orthodontist is typically a bright and comfortable space that is designed to put patients at ease. Treatment rooms are often decorated with colorful murals or other engaging artwork, and may include amenities such as televisions or music to help distract patients during treatment.
Orthodontists work closely with a team of dental assistants and other support staff to provide high-quality care to their patients. Dental assistants are responsible for helping the orthodontist with procedures, taking X-rays and impressions, and providing patient education and support.
In addition to working with patients, orthodontists must also manage the administrative side of their practice. This can include scheduling appointments, managing patient records, and handling billing and insurance claims. Orthodontists may also be responsible for marketing their practice to attract new patients.
Frequently Asked Questions
Comprehensive List of Doctor Specializations and Degrees
Here is a comprehensive list of 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.
- Orthopaedic 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Osteopathic Medicine
- Naturopathic Medicine
- Podiatric Medicine
- Veterinary Medicine
Dentistry Related Careers and Degrees
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
- Pediatric Dentist
- Dental Hygienist
- Dental Assistant
- Dental Laboratory Assistant
How long does it take to become an Orthodontist?
Becoming an orthodontist requires a significant investment of time and effort, and the length of the educational path can vary depending on the specific route taken. However, in general, it takes around 10-11 years to become an orthodontist.
Here is a breakdown of the typical educational path for becoming an orthodontist:
- Undergraduate degree: Orthodontists typically begin by earning a bachelor's degree, which takes four years of study.
- Dental school: After earning an undergraduate degree, students must complete four years of dental school, which includes both classroom and clinical training.
- Dental residency: After completing dental school, students must complete a two to three-year residency program in orthodontics, which provides additional training and hands-on experience in the field.
- Optional fellowship: After completing their residency, orthodontists may choose to pursue a fellowship, which provides additional training in a specific area of orthodontics.
Pros and Cons of Being an Orthodontist
As with any profession, there are both pros and cons to being an orthodontist. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of this career include:
- High earning potential: Orthodontists have the potential to earn a high income, particularly if they have their own practice.
- Job security: The demand for orthodontic services is high and is expected to continue growing, providing orthodontists with job security.
- Helping patients: Orthodontists have the opportunity to help patients improve their oral health and enhance their appearance, which can be very rewarding.
- Variety of treatments: Orthodontists can offer a wide variety of treatments to their patients, ranging from traditional braces to clear aligners, lingual braces, and more.
- Continuing education opportunities: Orthodontists must stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in their field, providing them with opportunities for continuing education and professional growth.
- Lengthy education and training: Becoming an orthodontist requires a significant investment of time and money, with 10-11 years of education and training required after high school.
- Workload: Orthodontists may have a high workload, with long hours spent working with patients and managing the administrative side of their practice.
- High stress: The work of an orthodontist can be high-stress, particularly when working with difficult cases or managing challenging patients.
- Risk of malpractice claims: As with any healthcare profession, orthodontists face the risk of malpractice claims, which can be time-consuming, stressful, and costly.
- Limited patient interaction: Some orthodontic treatments require patients to wear braces or other appliances for extended periods of time, which can limit patient interaction and lead to patient dissatisfaction.
Orthodontists are also known as:
Board Certified Orthodontist Orthodontics Specialist Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics Specialist