Dental training programs awarding the D.D.S. or D.M.D. are similar in content, and both prepare students for professional dental practice through clinical training. Then residency programs in orthodontics prepare students to specialize in orthodontics through rigorous coursework and clinical rotation and may result in master's degrees.
In every state, orthodontists are required to obtain both a dental license and a license to practice orthodontics. Most orthodontists seek board certification as well. Applicants to D.D.S. and D.M.D. programs must pass the Dental Admission Test and a criminal background check. They should also have completed coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, and biochemistry. Master's degree applicants must have a D.D.S. or a D.M.D. prior to admission. D.D.S. or D.M.D. programs last four years while master's degree programs last two to three years.
Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine
Dental students are provided with a comprehensive education in the social, basic and clinical sciences.
The first two years of a D.D.S. or D.M.D. program focus on general science coursework, while the final two years are made up of clinical rotations. Specific course topics might include:
- Oral anatomy
Master of Science in Orthodontics
Dentists seeking to specialize in the field of orthodontics should pursue a 2- to 3-year training program following completion of their dental degrees. Such programs commonly lead to a master's degree.
Didactic topics might include:
- Principles of orthodontics
- Orthodontic techniques
- Management of craniofacial anomalies
- Materials science
- Oral histology and pathology
- Research methods
Career Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for those in the orthodontics profession was expected to grow by 7% during the 2018-2028 decade. This rate is faster than the average for all occupations and equal to those practicing general dentistry. The increase was expected due to demand for dental work and increased availability of dental insurance.
Orthodontist salaries, while generally high, vary by location of practice. For example, the BLS reported that as of May 2018, orthodontists in Massachusetts made a mean salary of $282,740. The national mean salary for orthodontists per year in 2018 was more than $208,000.
Continuing Education Information
Each state maintains its own licensing requirements for orthodontic professionals, but most require completion of 1-3 years of residency training to meet eligibility requirements for licensure. State licensure is separate from board certification processes, which are specialty specific. Board certification for orthodontists is administered by the American Board of Orthodontics.
Most orthodontist programs offer a combination of coursework and hands-on field work. Generally this begins with an undergraduate degree before enrolling in a professional dental program and a residency in schooling orthodontics.