Tap to Read ➤

What Does an Orthodontist Do?

Indrajit Deshmukh
Orthodontists specialize in treating teeth and jaw abnormalities, with the help of medical prosthetic equipment. Most people consider them to be aesthetic dentists, but they do more than just fixing out-of-sync teeth.
The road to becoming an orthodontist is not easy. You have to complete a 2-3 year specialized training program, after you have acquired the doctor of dentistry degree. Orthodontics is a part of dentistry which deals with teeth alignment.
They are also known as smile doctors, as they fix out-of-shape teeth, enabling patients to flash million dollar smiles. The remuneration for the job is also quite enviable, as the average salaries range between USD 72,000 to more than USD 208,000.
Most qualified orthodontists start their own practice and work around 30-40 hours per week. Some of the personal qualities required to do well in this profession include interpersonal skills, as they have to interact with patients and assistants.

Duties and Responsibilities

Unlike most healthcare professionals, an orthodontist does not have to work odd hours and also gets to work from comfortable offices. One of the first things that an orthodontist does is perform diagnostic tests like taking X-rays of a patient's teeth and jaw.
They will then review the X-ray report to devise a treatment plan that will properly align the teeth with the jaw. Orthodontists will also discuss the procedure with patients and answer any queries that patients might have. Once the treatment plan is finalized, they will use braces and retainers to shape the teeth. Straightening crooked teeth forms a major part of their job description. However, they do more than that.
Orthodontists will also take measurements of the oral cavity to design lingual and labial arch wires. They will also make space maintainers, required for patients with irregular and misshaped teeth. Prescribing analgesics and medications that will hasten the healing process is also a major aspect of their job description. They will also study the patient's medical history to find out about any allergies and pre-existing conditions that might affect the treatment plan.
People who visit an orthodontist's office are apprehensive and fearful. So they have to give them lots of information, before preparing them for diagnostic tests and procedures. They also have to share aftercare instructions with patients and follow up with appointments. In some cases, they will also interact with the patient's family members and answer their queries, as well as address their doubts.

Education and Earnings

Individuals aspiring to become orthodontists will have to take subjects like physics, biology, chemistry, etc., for their undergraduate study. They will then have to study for their MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) and get into an accredited medical school.
After completing a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) degree, they can opt for specialization in orthodontics. The orthodontics program can last anywhere between 2-3 years and students can then opt for certification offered by the American Board of Orthodontics.
This is a lucrative career option, with salaries ranging between USD 90,000 to USD 200,000 per year. Like most other professions, their income also depends on the work location. Orthodontists practicing in prosperous locales tend to earn more than their counterparts, working in rural settings. Statistics also indicate that for some individuals with experience, the yearly earnings can cross the USD 250,000 mark.
The world we live in today values vanity. Hence, more and more people are seeking out orthodontists to correct their smiles. In spite of the prevailing economic conditions, the orthodontist's profession is expected to see gradual growth in the coming years.