In the 1900s, orthodontists made braces from gold.

The easily bendable and stretchy metal was the best choice to mold into the shapes needed to fit on teeth.

Gymnast, Simone Biles, bites on Olympic gold medal

Today, braces are mainly made from titanium, but being an orthodontist is still a golden career choice!

Are you considering a rewarding career in the dental field? Orthodontist might be a good fit for you!

What Is An Orthodontist?

Orthodontists are specialized dentists who focus on adjusting teeth and jaws.

Some of the specific areas orthodontists work on are:

  • teeth that stick out, are crooked, crowded, or too far apart

  • teeth that meet abnormally or don't meet at all

  • mismatched jaws

So, now that you know that orthodontists DO NOT feed turtles, what DO they do to treat patients?

  • They create a treatment plan for each patient using photos and molds.

  • They use appliances to move the teeth and jaw to the right place. Common appliances are braces, expanders, and retainers.

Animated girl with red pigtails, blue shirt, braces and large appliance on teeth, tapping the screen.

Orthodontist vs. Dentist: What's The Difference?

Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting orthodontists and dentists

As shown in the chart above:

  • Both orthodontists and dentist are oral care doctors

  • Dentist focus on tooth and gum health and treat cavities, decay, and gum disease

  • Orthodontists treat crooked or crowded teeth and over- or underbites

  • Orthodontists attend school for 2-4 more years than dentists

Quiz

Julio is interested in helping patients by diagnosing and treating tooth issues like gum disease and cavities. Which job is better for him?

What Does It Take To Be An Orthodontist?

Give yourself 1 point for every yes answer!

Two men, each reaching forward with one finger pointed up

An orthodontist needs to have many skills to be successful. These questions cover just a few.

  1. Do you enjoy learning and going to school?

    Orthodontists need up to 4-6 years of school after college.

  2. Do you like working with people?

    Orthodontists work closely with patients and staff on a regular basis. Empathy and compassion are important skills.

  3. Are you good working with your hands?

    Orthodontists work with a variety of tools in a small space.

  4. Are you interested in starting your own business?

    Many orthodontists set up their own private practice.

  5. Are you detail oriented?

    Orthodontists have to be careful about details like patient health history, reading charts, and keeping accurate charts.

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How many points did you score?

0-1 Nope. Orthodontics is most likely not your thing. Keep looking for a better career fit.

2-3 Ehhh. There are parts of being an orthodontist that fit, but you're not completely sold.

4-5 Yesss! You can totally picture yourself making the world a brighter place, one perfect smile at a time.

The Beast from Beauty and the Beast smiling widely, showing crooked teeth. Lumiere telling him to,

What Is Life Like As An Orthodontist?

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Orthodontists work in:

  • Specialized offices with treatment rooms

  • Hospitals

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They use equipment such as:

  • xray machines

  • modeling equipment

  • brackets, braces, wire, and adhesive

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They wear medical scrubs, eyewear, masks, and gloves throughout much of the day.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Becoming An Orthodontist?

Flaticon Icon PROS

  1. High salary: $208,000 US/ $271,00 CA

  • Flexibility: usually able to create own schedule and hours

  • Help people through your work

  • Stress level is below average

Flaticon Icon CONS

  • Length of education: 11 years from college through residency

  • Cost of education: it can run you up to a million dollars!

  • Job growth is expected to be slow to moderate at 8.1%

Quiz

Malik just graduated from college and is considering a career in the medical field. Which of these traits might make orthodontics a good fit?

Take Action

Is orthodontics a field you're still interested in?

David Rose, from Schitt's Creek, nodding his head. Caption - Yes, I would like that very much.

Get started on your path!

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This Byte has been authored by

RG

Rebecca Gryga

Instructional Designer, Curriculum Developer