What do Orthodontists Do?
No matter the age of the patient, orthodontists are responsible for diagnosing and treating dental anomalies in the mouth. Teeth and jaw are realigned using designed and modified appliances, such as braces, retainers and spacers, to give patients better function and appearance.
Orthodontists Skills and Abilities
You must be proficient in medical and biological areas in order to operate successfully as an orthodontist. The ability to treat deformities using various medical tools, to prescribe accurate medication and avoid drug interactions are key to your success. You must have skills in complex problem solving and decision making to work with persons of all ages and temperaments, with varying degrees of dental issues. Critical thinking skills help you identify the best solutions for patients. To educate patients on diagnoses and treatments, you must have clear speaking abilities and great written communication skills. While working on a patient, you must have coordination and dexterity to perform your duties with the maximum amount of accuracy and care.
As an orthodontist, you must be able to work with different kinds of patients and dental problems. Your duties include examining the oral cavity and diagnosing abnormalities in the teeth, jaw or facial bone. You will treat patients using appliances and any necessary medication, as well as these other duties:
- Collaborate with other medical and dental providers for major dental procedures.
- Hire and train administrative and assistant personnel to assist with patient records, billing and treatment.
- Make plaster molds of patient’s teeth to study for problems or order correctly fitted dental appliances.
- Install appliances in mouths.
- Prescribe anxiety or antibiotic medication and administer anesthesia.
- Write diagnoses and cost reports for patients prior to treatment.
Orthodontists Tools and Technology
As an orthodontist, you will work with a wide array of dental tools. For examinations, you will use probes and mirrors. For installation of appliances, you will use placement instruments, including double-ended band seaters, lingual torqueing keys, needle holders, and ligature directors. For braces and other metal appliances, you will use pliers for modifying or splitting bands and removing adhesives and bands. You may be required to use x-ray machines and overhead light systems, as well. Computer programs you will need to be proficient in include imaging and x-ray software and medical records and imaging software.
Education and Training for Orthodontists
As an orthodontist, you are a board certified medical doctor. This means you must have completed all aspects of an accredited doctoral program in orthodontics or orthodontology, including residency and board certification. On-the-job training is only found in the residency or internship part of your education program.
Orthodontists make very good money in the United States. The nation median average for pay is more than $187,000, while the top exceeds that number greatly. The bottom 10 percent earn $79,000 per year. Most states have rates of pay for the top 50 percent of employees that fall well into the several hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Illinois, Indiana and Maryland pay the lowest, with median rates between $111,000 and $124,000 per year. Specializing in areas of orthodontia, such as children or implants, may increase your yearly salary, as well.
Orthodontists Jobs by Geography
As dental care techniques and methods change with new technologies, so do the number of jobs available in the country. There are approximately seven thousand orthodontist positions in existence, with a projected 16 percent rise over the next few years. Each year, you can expect to see three hundred openings for new hires. Location may play a part in the likelihood of finding employment. New York, Texas and Illinois offer the most opportunities in the nation when compared to other states.