What is an Orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dentist who has chosen to further their studies in order to have specialized knowledge in improving or correcting the misalignment of people's jaws and teeth.

Through their work, orthodontists have the ability to help people feel less anxious about their teeth, improve smiles, and give their patients more self-confidence.

What does an Orthodontist do?

General dentists refer patients to orthodontists when they have an improper bite. An improper bite can mean that teeth are growing in crooked or crowded, and creating discomfort. Even if there is no pain or discomfort, a patient may simply want to improve their appearance with a straighter set of teeth.

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

Orthodontists help improve or correct misalignment or a malocclusion by using hardware, such as retainers and headgear. The goal is to align the teeth and jaw so as to improve the patient's appearance or their ability to chew without difficulty or pain.

Patients initially come in for a consultation in order to assess their malocclusion. During this initial appointment, an orthodontist will examine the teeth and jaw, take X-rays, and take molds of both the upper and lower teeth. Any issues are typically spotted after this examination. Orthodontists will lay out what the most effective treatment solution will be for the patient, as well as the costs involved.

Treatment typically involves using dental braces. While people of all ages can wear braces, children make up the bulk of patients who wear them. Treatment with dental braces begins when a child has lost most of their baby teeth, and when most of the adult teeth have grown in. This is typically between the ages of 9 and 14.

It is an ideal age for wearing braces because the teeth and face are in a time of constant and significant growth, and it is better to catch and correct any teeth alignment issues early on instead of later. The braces help guide the teeth, keeping them straight and preventing future malocclusion issues.

Once the braces are on, patients come in for regular visits so the orthodontist can make small adjustments, which typically involves tightening the braces. When the desired result has been achieved, the braces are removed. This can take between one to three years, depending on the patient.

Beyond braces, orthodontists deal with other conditions such as jaw pain, speech impediments, sleep apnea, gum disease, and difficulty chewing.

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?

Most orthodontists work full-time jobs, and working conditions are generally pleasant. Orthodontists may have hundreds of patients, all with various issues and treatment plans. They carefully track each patient's progress.

Some orthodontists prefer traditional nine-to-five schedules, while others work on weekends/evenings in order to accommodate patient needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I become an Orthodontist?

The answer to this question lies in the answer to another one: Do my personal traits match those needed to work in orthodontics?

Interpersonal skills
Working with the public – adults, adolescents, and children – as well as staff and colleagues demands an ability to communicate effectively. Case in point: straightening the teeth of a thirteen-year-old boy who is only sitting in the chair because his parents are making him get braces is a task that is not for everyone. Orthodontists need to be empathetic, diplomatic, and pleasant.

Manual dexterity and visual memory in regards to space, depth, size, shape, and color
Orthodontists work in small, confined spaces in the mouth.

Problem-solving skills
Not all treatments work on all patients. Orthodontists need to figure out alternative treatments when something does not work.

Ability to work in pressure situations
Sometimes, orthodontists have to deal with patients’ urgent issues following a car accident or sports accident.

Some patients will be scared or difficult.

Business management and leadership skills
Most orthodontists operate their own business. This calls for capacities to manage, motivate, and lead employees and handle things like payroll, taxes, accounts payable, account receivable, and government regulations.

Steps to becoming an Orthodontist

Becoming an orthodontist is a multi-step process. It begins with an early interest in science and continues with maintaining a competitive GPA through college, graduating from dental school, and completing an orthodontics residency.

How long does it take to become an Orthodontist?

It typically takes ten or eleven years to become an orthodontist:

  • Bachelor’s Degree – four years
  • Dental School – four years
  • Orthodontics Residency – two to three years

Are Orthodontists happy?

While we have no specific data to support or refute the happiness of orthodontists, there is no denying that there is a rewarding aspect to the work. Orthodontics combines many fields of dentistry to achieve a result that is natural, functional, and cosmetically beautiful. It is not hyperbole to say that orthodontics can change self-esteem, change the way people see themselves, and ultimately eliminate perceived shortcomings by restoring patients’ smiles.

What are Orthodontists like?

Overbites, underbites, crooked teeth, uneven spacing, misaligned teeth, incorrect jaw position. Diagnosing and correcting every one of these dental irregularities is the work of orthodontists, work which is at its core investigative.

Orthodontists are also known as:
Board Certified Orthodontist Orthodontics Specialist Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics Specialist