How long does it take to become an Orthodontist? (Steps and responsibilities)

A large space between the teeth or misaligned teeth can result in problems like gum disease or tooth decay. To treat this problem you need to visit an Orthodontist. A Perfect Smile is what every person needs on this planet. It is often related to good health which is completely true. Oral health care plays a crucial factor in your well-being. Who are Orthodontists? and How long does it take to become an Orthodontist?

Quick Takeaways

  • Orthodontics is one of the branches of the dental speciality which generally deals with dental irregularities like misaligned teeth and jaw issues.
  • You will need to spend 10-11 years to become an orthodontist. 
  • You have to complete your education with a science degree and then need to give a dental admission test. 
  • After giving the test you need to attend dental college and complete the residency program.

However, you must read till the end so that you do not miss any important facts related to orthodontists.

Who are Orthodontists?

Orthodontics is one of the branches of the dental speciality. As an orthodontist, you will be responsible for checking up on a lot of dental irregularities like misaligned teeth and jaw issues. Orthodontists also create plans for the treatment of teeth problems. They also help to remove bacteria from your teeth. The ultimate aim of orthodontists is to improve the patient’s bite and help them to get a perfect smile.

How long does it take to become an Orthodontist? – How much time does it take to become an Orthodontist?

Become a certified and trained orthodontist, it may take up to 10-11 years

  • Four years to get the undergraduate degree
  • Four years to get complete dental college and not medical school.
  • And 2-3 years to complete the orthodontic residency program

Responsibilities Of Orthodontists

Different professions like anesthesiologists, estheticians, etc. The most important duties that an Orthodontist performs are –

  • An orthodontist needs to meet and assess the patient’s teeth or jaw problems. 
  • As an orthodontist, you would prepare treatment plans for the patient.
  • You should know about adjusting dental appliances.
  • You should be able to use Diagnostic tools like X-rays.
  • You must keep track of the progress of the treatment.

How to become an Orthodontist?

To become an Orthodontist you need to go through the steps-

1. Education-

To get into dental college, you first need to get a bachelor’s degree in the science subjects like biology, chemistry, or physics. It is a vital step as most dental colleges required a bachelor’s degree to get into the dental college. 

2. Dental Admission test-

It is also known as the Dental Aptitude Test. This test is a method of checking the knowledge that you must have gained in your undergraduate degree. The certificate is issued by the American Dental Association. The test is broken into various sections to test your knowledge of chemistry, biology, and organic chemistry. It also tests your critical thinking and the basics of mathematics like trigonometry which was given by Hipparchus. Most dental schools will look for the average scores on the test. 

3. Apply to the dental college-

Once you have earned your bachelor’s degree, now start enrolling in the dental college of your choice. Generally going to dental college takes up to 4 years to complete. In your first two years of your college, you will get detailed knowledge about how dental work can affect the other parts of the body. And in the next 2 years, you get to practice direct procedures under the mentorship of licensed orthodontists. 

4. Orthodontic Residency-

In your final year, you need to choose orthodontic residency programs. During this program, you will be working and treating orthodontic patients. In this program, you will be performing long hours of day shifts. To get into these programs you need to clear the National Board Dental Examination(NBDE). Although to get into these programs is quite tough.

According to the American Association of Orthodontics, each program has only one seat for 15 applications. This means that the ratio of the seat to the ratio of applications is 1:15 which is not even half. The chances of getting into these programs are high only if you top your dental college. Once you have completed your residency program, you will get your license to work as Orthodontist. 

3 Common Treatments Used By Orthodontists

Many treatments are done by Orthodontists. The most common are-

1. Dental Braces – 

Braces are used to set the teeth in the right position. A metallic or ceramic wire connects the bracket with each tooth. This will help in perfectly aligning the teeth. This treatment usually takes up a long time to show results. It may take months or even years to get recover depending upon the problem of each individual.

2. Retainers-

Once your braces are detached, you may need to use retainers as you would not want your teeth to get back into their original position. Using retainers would help your teeth to stay in the newly aligned position.

Headgear –

Headgear is generally used with Braces. They help in setting up developmental issues like over or under-biting. 

How much does an Orthodontist earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the expected increase in job opportunities in this field is 8.5% in the next decade. It is more rapid than the average rate of other professions. Typically the average annual salary that an orthodontist makes lies between $208,000 – $256,491 per year. Some of the high-paying countries –

  • Mississippi
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • New Mexico


Oral healthcare has an important role to play in our well-being. And to treat problems related to oral healthcare, orthodontists are needed. As an orthodontist, you will assess the patient’s teeth or gum problem and will help them to solve it. The expected increase in job opportunities in this field is 8.5% in the coming decade. It may take 10-11 years to become a professional orthodontist. 

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