Orthodontists are dentists who specialize in correcting crooked teeth, misaligned jaws and related problems such as overbites. They use a variety of materials, tools and equipment such as dental x-rays, molds, braces and retainers to identify the correct position for the teeth and jaws and to align them accordingly.
What Does an Orthodontist Do?
Orthodontists usually conduct their corrective procedures on children, although there are adults who grow up never having done so when they were young and subsequently wish to perfect their smiles.
Their specific duties are to:
- Conduct initial consultations to determine the type of corrective treatment the patient needs
- Devise a treatment plan and advise the patient accordingly, noting the stages involved and estimating the amount of time it will take
- Conduct x-rays, cleaning, filling and any other restorative work before fitting them for braces
- Adjusting and re-aligning braces during regular dental visits and eventually taking the braces out after the teeth and jaws are in their proper position
- Fitting patients for retainers
- Conduct follow-up appointments
There are a number of stages involved in qualifying to become an orthodontist in Australia. The first step is to take and pass the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test and a structured interview.
The next step is to undertake a four or five year undergraduate Bachelor of Dental Surgery, Dental Science or Dentistry degree program to qualify as a dentist. The course covers topics such as:
- Oral anatomy and physiology
- Oral surgical sciences, surgery and rehabilitation
- Periodontics and dental implantology
- Practical placement after proper immunizations, health certifications and first aid training
On completion of your course you will need to be registered by the Dental Board of Australia and practice for at least two years before applying for the Masters course.
Thereafter, you have to undergo specialized training in orthodontics through a three year Master’s degree program after which you qualify as a Doctor of Clinical Dentistry (Orthodontics). The course involves clinical sessions, attending seminars on the latest developments in the field and research work.
The last stage is registration as a specialist in orthodontics by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.
Additional qualifications are:
- Experience aside from the practical placements during formal training programs.
- Continuous professional development workshops, seminars and courses to stay updated on the latest advancements in the field.
- Membership of professional associations such as Australian Society of Dentists, Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons or Australian Society of Orthodontists.
You will also need the following skills for this job:
- Manual dexterity and the ability to work meticulously.
- Multi-disciplinary knowledge and the ability to integrate it during patient care
- Patience, empathy and compassion for your patients
- Ability to communicate clearly and firmly
- Dedication and self-drive
Orthodontists are highly-paid, due to the delicate and specialized nature of the work that they do. The average per annum salary range is:
Source: Orthodontist Salary
Orthodontists split their time between their offices where they see their patients and the laboratories where they prepare the orthodontic treatment materials such as moulds and braces. They usually work on strict schedules, so that the treatment is effective. However, they also determine their own work hours and can even work three or four days in a week. Their work may also require them to travel from time to time to attend conferences, workshops and seminars that can help them improve their techniques.
The career growth outlook for orthodontists is high, which means that there are and for the foreseeable future, there will be job opportunities for suitably qualified candidates. Due to the lengthy qualification process, it is only few people who manage to make it to become fully fledged orthodontists. Therefore, if you are ready to put in the time and work and constantly stay updated on the latest developments in the field, then you can have a bright and prosperous career future.
Being an orthodontist is ideal if you want to work in the medical field but not as a doctor. It is a job that offers the best opportunity for a person who is inclined to the sciences, meticulous, determined and has an interest in promoting oral health care and well-being.