Why And How To Get An Orthodontic Education
Most people have seen an orthodontist’s work. They are the specialty dentists that are responsible for braces, headgear and retainers, among other things. And orthodontists are invaluable if you have a defect in your mouth or jaw. But there’s a long road of orthodontic education before you can become one of these professionals.
Orthodontists typically have between eight and eleven years of post-secondary schoolwork by the time they are licensed to practice orthodontia. This includes a stint as an undergraduate, where the budding orthodontist must take certain required courses and either complete a bachelor’s degree or at least two years of school and an entrance exam to a dental school.
Once in dental school, the student faces four years of rigorous coursework before they have officially become a dentist. Some of those who originally intended to become orthodontists will stop here, and become a regular practicing dentist. But those who still want to continue on, will enter a two or three year master’s degree or certificate program in orthodontia.
It takes a very particular kind of person to be an orthodontist. Besides the physical requirements of good vision, good manual dexterity and good enough health to lean over people’s mouths for most of their days, an orthodontist must also have a fair amount of mechanical savvy, necessary for using the various pieces of equipment such as braces, and a desire to work with people, even those who may not be happy to see him.
There is a silver lining to being an orthodontist — the average salary for one of these professionals was $123,000 within the last few years. But orthodontists, like many other professionals, often come out of their professional school education tens of thousands of dollars in debt. So, while this may seem like a lot of money, the orthodontist is likely going to be using it to pay off his or her student loans for the first decade or two he or she practices.
A lot of the work that orthodontists do is aesthetic — that is, making people look better. But they do perform a valuable service to the world, because these are also the professionals that are trained to deal with facial and jaw bone abnormalities, as well as problems with the teeth beyond the purview of a normal dentist. People who are born with facial deformities, and those who acquire them through trauma or other means, are often treated by orthodontists.
Being an orthodontist can be hard on a person. Generally, the majority of an orthodontist’s patients are children, and some may be frightened of him or her. Others may be angry with their parents for forcing them to have orthodontic care, or upset with the pain or difficulties orthodontia can cause. These are all reasons that a budding orthodontist needs to think through their career choice carefully, because it may be difficult to leave a profession that so much time, money and effort was spent on entering.
Getting an orthodontic education is a daunting process, and the end result is not for everyone. But the world needs orthodontists, so it’s a good thing that there seem to be people who want to become one.