How to become an Orthodontist

Overview, Courses, Exam, Colleges, Pathways, Salary

Medicine & Allied Healthcare


Who is Orthodontist ?

An Orthodontist is a dental specialist who focuses on correcting misaligned teeth and jaw irregularities to improve oral function and aesthetics. They diagnose, plan, and implement treatments, such as braces, aligners, and retainers, to reposition teeth and create a balanced bite. Orthodontists assess patients' dental health through examinations, X-rays, and impressions, designing individualized treatment plans. They are crucial in enhancing patients' smiles and oral health, addressing issues like crowded teeth, overbites, underbites, and gaps. Orthodontic treatment can improve speech, easier chewing, and increased self-confidence. Regular follow-ups are essential to monitor progress and ensure successful outcomes.

Here are some steps to becoming an Orthodontist:

  1. Obtain a Bachelor's Degree: Start by completing a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. While no specific major is required for dental school, taking pre-dental courses or a degree in a science-related field is recommended.
  2. Take the Dental Admission Test (DAT): To gain admission to dental school, you'll need to take the Dental Admission Test (DAT), which assesses your academic knowledge in natural sciences, perceptual ability, and reading comprehension. A good DAT score improves your chances of being accepted into dental school.
  3. Attend Dental School: After being accepted, complete four years of dental education. The curriculum includes classroom-based learning and hands-on clinical experience in various dental specialties.
  4. Choose Orthodontics as a Specialty: You must choose orthodontics as your desired dental specialty during dental school. Pursue elective rotations or experiences in orthodontics to gain exposure to the field.
  5. Complete an Orthodontic Residency: After dental school, apply for an orthodontic residency program. Orthodontic residencies typically last 2 to 3 years and provide specialized training in diagnosing and treating malocclusion (improper bites) and jaw irregularities.
  6. Obtain a Dental License: After completing your orthodontic residency, you'll need to obtain a dental license to practice as a dentist. Licensing requirements vary by location, so research the specific requirements in the area where you plan to practice.
  7. Consider Board Certification (Optional): While board certification is optional, becoming board-certified by the American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) demonstrates your expertise and commitment to maintaining high standards of orthodontic practice.
  8. Continue Professional Development: As an orthodontist, continuous learning and professional development are essential. Stay updated on the latest advancements and research in the field of orthodontics.
  9. Start Your Orthodontic Practice or Join a Dental Facility: Start your orthodontic practice or join a dental group or facility to begin practicing as an orthodontist.

Typical day at work

What does Orthodontist do?

An Orthodontist is a dental specialist who focuses on diagnosing, preventing, and treating dental and facial irregularities, specifically related to the alignment of teeth and jaws. Their primary role is to correct misalignments and malocclusions (bad bites) to improve oral function, aesthetics, and overall dental health. Here's an overview of what an Orthodontist does:

  1. Diagnosis: Orthodontists perform thorough examinations, which may include X-rays, photographs, and dental impressions, to assess the patient's dental and facial structure.
  2. Treatment Planning: Based on the diagnosis, Orthodontists develop personalized treatment plans tailored to each patient's specific needs. These plans may involve braces, aligners, or other orthodontic appliances.
  3. Orthodontic Appliances: Orthodontists design and apply various dental appliances to reposition teeth and jaws gradually. Common appliances include traditional braces, clear aligners (e.g., Invisalign), and retainers.
  4. Adjustment and Monitoring: Orthodontists regularly adjust braces or aligners to ensure proper tooth movement and alignment. They monitor progress throughout the treatment process.
  5. Addressing Dental Irregularities: Orthodontists address various dental issues, including crowded teeth, gaps, overbites, underbites, crossbites, and open bites.
  6. Bite Correction: By correcting misaligned teeth and jaws, Orthodontists improve a patient's bite, leading to better oral function and reducing the risk of dental problems.
  7. Oral Health Education: Orthodontists educate patients on proper oral hygiene practices and the care of orthodontic appliances to maintain good dental health during treatment.
  8. Interdisciplinary Collaboration: In some cases, Orthodontists may collaborate with other dental specialists, such as oral surgeons and prosthodontists, to address complex cases involving jaw surgery or dental restorations.
  9. Aesthetic Improvements: Orthodontists help enhance a patient's smile and facial appearance by achieving a more harmonious alignment of teeth and jaws.

Abilities and Aptitude needed

What are the skills, abilities & aptitude needed to become Orthodontist?

The orthodontists should be face, mouth, jaw and skull specialists. Orthodontists utilize a series of tools and devices to accomplish everyday tasks and, therefore, should be familiar with how to work with a diverse range of orthodontic equipment and instruments. Educating about proper oral care is a central part of being an orthodontist and you should be well-informed on best procedures so that you can inform your patients about the same.

Orthodontists must work in collaboration with dentists and patients. Orthodontists must communicate the processes you will implement on the patient while also collecting precise and adequate medical history to provide the dentist. 

Orthodontists have to work very well with their hands, as they operate on a minor part of the body in close quarters, necessitating the usage of fine motor skills in utilizing very precise instruments and types of equipment. 

The chair of the dentist makes many people uncomfortable-particularly young children. Being able to show empathy and help patients withdraw their minds from getting medical attention goes a long way in alleviating worries. Some of them are in severe agony or are afraid of such treatments in general, and so the orthodontist needs to be thoughtful of their emotions. 


Salary for Orthodontist?

Salary of an Orthodontist is as follows :

  • Minimum Monthly Salary: Entry-level orthodontists can expect a minimum monthly salary ranging from INR 15,000 to INR 25,000. These initial earnings are typical for individuals who have recently completed their orthodontic training and are beginning their careers in this field.
  • Maximum Monthly Salary: Highly experienced and specialized orthodontists with advanced skills, years of service, and roles in technical areas of orthodontics may earn anywhere from INR 50,000 to INR 1,00,000 or more per month. Those working with renowned dental institutions, specializing in complex dental cases, or contributing to orthodontic research and advancements may command higher salaries.
  • Annual Salary: The annual salary for entry-level or junior orthodontists could range from INR 1,80,000 to INR 3,00,000. As orthodontists gain experience, develop expertise in specific dental conditions, and establish private practices, their annual income can increase from approximately INR 4,00,000 to INR 8,00,000 or higher.
  • Highest Paying Jobs and Scope: Orthodontists specializing in complex cases, orthognathic surgery, dentofacial orthopedics, or working with patients requiring comprehensive orthodontic treatment enjoy better salary prospects. Those who contribute to innovative treatment plans, collaborate with other dental specialists, or work on significant patient cases may have enhanced earnings. Orthodontists are crucial in improving dental and facial aesthetics, addressing malocclusions, and enhancing oral health. With the increasing demand for orthodontic care and advancements in dental technology, skilled orthodontists are expected to have promising career opportunities. Professionals who excel in treatment planning, appliance design, attention to detail, and effective communication will likely experience substantial career growth and advancement within orthodontics.

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Entrance Exam for Orthodontist ?


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Which Industries are open for Orthodontist?

  1. Private Orthodontic Practices: Many Orthodontists establish their private practices, offering specialized orthodontic services to patients.
  2. Dental Clinics: Orthodontists may work in dental clinics, providing orthodontic treatments alongside other dental services.
  3. Hospitals: Some hospitals have dental departments or orthodontic units, where Orthodontists offer their services to patients.
  4. Academic Institutions: Orthodontists can work in dental schools or academic institutions as faculty members, teaching and conducting research in orthodontics.
  5. Research and Development: Orthodontists may work in research and development roles for dental product manufacturers, contributing to developing new orthodontic technologies and products.
  6. Government and Public Health: Orthodontists may work in government healthcare settings, providing orthodontic services to the public, especially in areas with limited access to dental care.
  7. Military and Veterans Affairs: Some Orthodontists may work in military or veterans affairs healthcare settings, providing dental and orthodontic care to service members and veterans.
  8. Dental Insurance Companies: Orthodontists may work for dental insurance companies to assess orthodontic treatment plans and determine coverage.
  9. International Aid Organizations: Some Orthodontists volunteer their services with international aid organizations, providing orthodontic care to underserved communities worldwide.
  10. Telehealth and Online Platforms: With the rise of telemedicine, some Orthodontists offer virtual consultations and remote monitoring of orthodontic treatments through online platforms.


Are there internships available for Orthodontist?

Internships tailored for Orthodontists may not be as common as those for general dentistry students. However, there might still be opportunities for Orthodontists to gain practical experience and specialized training through internships or observer ships in certain settings.

Orthodontists seeking internships can explore the following avenues:

  1. Dental Schools: Some dental schools or colleges offer internships or short-term training programs in orthodontics, where aspiring Orthodontists can gain hands-on experience under the guidance of experienced faculty.
  2. Private Orthodontic Practices: Some established Orthodontists might be open to taking on interns or offering observer ships at their private practices, providing exposure to real-world cases and orthodontic procedures.
  3. Hospital Dental Departments: Large hospitals with dental departments might offer internships or rotations in various dental specialities, including orthodontics.
  4. Dental Associations: National or regional dental associations may organize workshops, seminars, or internships for dental professionals, including Orthodontists, to enhance their skills and knowledge.
  5. Academic Institutions: Research-oriented academic institutions focusing on dentistry or orthodontics may offer internships or research opportunities for Orthodontists.
  6. Industry Partnerships: Some orthodontic product manufacturers or dental supply companies may collaborate with Orthodontists, offering internships or educational programs related to their products and technologies.

Career outlook

What does the future look like for Orthodontist?

Orthodontist jobs are available in general or specialty dental clinics but you may also work in nursing homes, hospitals and other health care facilities. Also, you could enter a related area like orthodontic therapy or health promotion. 

In a hospital, you'll be treating people who may have had major surgery or complex orthodontic treatment or different medical conditions. 

The Orthodontists' employment is projected to increase over the next 10 years. The majority of orthodontists are employed in their own practices. With others, they collaborate as colleagues, as independent contractors, as partners or as educators in programmes focused on universities or hospitals. A few orthodontists even serve in the military.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How long will it take for you to become an orthodontist?

Answer: Becoming an orthodontist typically requires a significant amount of education and specialized training. It generally takes around 10 to 12 years after completing high school to become an orthodontist. This includes completing a bachelor's degree (4 years), dental school (4 years), and an orthodontic residency program (2 to 3 years).

2. Is MBBS required to become an orthodontist?

Answer: No, MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) is not required to become an orthodontist. The path to becoming an orthodontist involves completing dental school and then pursuing a specialized orthodontic residency program. In some countries, the title of a dentist may vary (such as DDS - Doctor of Dental Surgery), but MBBS is not a requirement for orthodontics.

3. How can I become an orthodontist in India?

Answer: To become an orthodontist in India, follow these steps: a. Complete 10+2 education with science stream (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology) and obtain high marks. b. Appear for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) to gain admission to dental school. c. Complete a 4-year Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) from a recognized dental college. d. After BDS, apply for a postgraduate orthodontic residency program (MDS in Orthodontics) that typically lasts three years. e. Register with the Dental Council of India to obtain the necessary license upon completing the orthodontic residency.

4. How in demand is an orthodontist?

Answer: The demand for orthodontists can vary based on location, population, and oral health awareness. Generally, orthodontists remain in demand due to the prevalence of orthodontic issues like malocclusions and the growing emphasis on dental aesthetics. As people become more conscious of their smiles and dental health, the demand for orthodontic treatments remains relatively high.

5. What is the best major for an orthodontist?

Answer: The best major for an aspiring orthodontist is typically a Bachelor's degree in a science-related field. While no specific major is required, courses in biology, chemistry, and other natural sciences can provide a strong foundation for dental school and further studies in orthodontics. Additionally, some universities offer pre-dentistry programs to help students prepare for dental school and a future career as an orthodontist.