What It Takes to Become an Orthodontist

An orthodontist is a type of dental specialist whose work is to prevent and / or correct irregularities that take place with teeth. Also known as orthodontic dentists, these healthcare professionals direct the movement of teeth to bring them into alignment. They also guide facial development which in turn serves to improve both the appearance of teeth as well as how they work. The relationship of how each tooth works in concert with the others and the bite of a patient are important to an orthodontist.

These dentists are responsible for improving and dramatically correcting the smiles of patients through such things as braces, retainers and other types of dental mouthpieces. By enhancing the alignment of teeth, this often alters the face shape for the better. It can also increase the confidence that the patient feels. Not only do they correct teeth that are misaligned but they also correct jaw abnormalities and fix overbites. Orthodontic practitioners may do other procedures to improve the oral health of their patients, such as putting therapeutic or reconstructive techniques to work.

Becoming an orthodontist is an undertaking that spans many years. It is a long and drawn out procedure that appeals to only six percent of those who train to become dentists, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. While many people associate the practice of these dental specialists with teenagers with crooked teeth, in reality, they treat people of all age groups who seek a healthier and and more appealing smile.

A person who would like to become an orthodontic dentist must first attend college or university and earn their undergraduate degree. Aspiring dental students do not have to choose a particular area of ​​study to continue onto dental school. However it is important that they take a concentration of courses in science, such as biology, chemistry and physics. Be aware that for those that have the hope of going into orthodontics, advanced science study is strongly recommended. This will take approximately four years to complete.

The next step following graduation is to enroll in an accredited and reputable dental school. Upon graduation the student will receive a doctor of dental medicine degree (DMD) or a doctor of dental surgery (DDS). While these degrees are basically the same thing, different educational institutions do not grant exactly the same kind of degree. Two courses that you will spend plenty of time studying in dental school include anatomy and biology. You will spend an estimated three to four years attending dental school.

Once dental school is behind you, the aspirating dental practitioner must take a dental admissions test which will assess the skills the person has learned and will determine whether the individual is ready to practice in the dental field. The next step is to sign up for a program in orthodontics which will focus in on all of the necessary material surrounding orthodontia. The dentist will then graduate with a Master of Science degree. This will take two to three years to finish. From there, he or she must take and pass the College of Dentists Board examination. After that is completed then the dentist is legally allowed to practice orthodontics.