Orthodontist

Pros


  • You help people feel better about themselves by improving their teeth.
  • This is a career from someone who is interested in science, especially that of physical nature.
  • Those who like to fix things or solve problems become good orthodontists.

Cons

  • You will have to be good with people to be an orthodontist. Often orthodontic procedures will cause patients pain.
  • The nature of the work will require you to spend a lot of time working with your hands. You will need to be skilled with using very specialized tools to do this work.
  • You will spend a lot of time working in people’s mouths.

Overview

An orthodontist is a type of dentist that has specialized in the practice of performing cosmetic work on their patients. The majority of their work consists of straightening teeth, but they can also treat problems such as a cleft lip, skeletal problems, facial abnormalities and problems with jaw movement. A good majority of patients are children, but there are also some adults that are orthodontic patients as well.

The main procedure that orthodontists perform on their patients is fitting and then inserting braces to the teeth. These are dental straps or wires that use pressure to correct the teeth structure within a person’s mouth. Braces are usually attached to a patient’s teeth for a period of years. New technology has allowed orthodontists to also use plastic mouth retainers for a greater portion of time in correcting their patient’s teeth, which are more comfortable than the use of braces. Orthodontists will also sometimes fit the mouth with other types of corrective materials such as bands to correct jaw movements.

Most orthodontists work in private practice as a sole proprietor. They get most of their business from dentists who refer their own patients to them. While many dentists are perfectly capable of performing orthodontic procedures, many of them send patients to an orthodontist, who is more specialized through their work experience and training. There are also a small amount of orthodontists that work in hospitals or other health organizations.

Education

Orthodontists are trained dentists. To become a dentist, students must study for three or four years as a pre-dental undergraduate student, focusing on biology, anatomy and chemistry. They must take the dental aptitude test, the DAT, to apply to dental school. Once in dental school, they will spend four years there learning in the classroom as well as hands-on. Most orthodontists go through this regular regimen to become a dentist, and then in their final years of schooling become specially trained in providing orthodontic care.

Job Prospects

There is modest growth in the field of orthodontics, but due to older generations of orthodontists retiring there should be no shortage of work in this field. There is a trend in United State of growing popularity for cosmetic procedures, and orthodontists will certainly benefit from this since teeth are such a noticeable feature on a person. Also, since dental insurance is paid for by most employers to promote preventive health practices, more people are inclined to visit the dentist than ever before for these purposes, and this also an advantage for orthodontists because of the work dental practices can provide them.

Advancement Opportunities

Advancement for orthodontists really depends on how successfully they can build their business since most of them are self-employed. Since they are running their own enterprise, orthodontists must be able to proficiently market their services to their community and to their dentist colleagues. For orthodontists that do not work for themselves, they can see some advancement in their careers as they gain more experience.