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?

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:

  • 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.

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.

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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

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