Orthodontics is a demanding field that requires many years of study. People who are orthodontists specialize in various corrective measures to the teeth and jaws. This includes things like putting on braces to treat crooked teeth or those that stick out, but it can also mean widening palates or using special equipment and techniques to treat palate and jaw defects.
In most countries, people must complete a bachelor’s degree prior to attending dental school, where they will not yet become specialists in orthodontics, but will instead become dentists. Those in high school considering this field may wonder what areas they should study prior to college. It can help to work hard on math and science and plan to major in a field in college that focuses in these areas. Some people study pre-med or nursing for their bachelor’s degree, but this isn’t always necessary. Others have degrees in the sciences or take liberal arts degrees with a strong showing in various sciences. Classes or extracurricular activities that stress interaction with people can be valuable areas to excel in too.
Once a person has finished a bachelor’s degree, they can apply for dental school, and length of time school takes may depend on country requirements. In the UK, for instance, dental school takes four to five years. In the US some programs in dental school take three years and others take four. Once this training is completed, many countries have licensing exams people must take before proceeding to a school that specializes in teaching orthodontics.
Those practicing orthodontics could be considered dentist specialists. They’ll need an additional two to three years of specialty training and practice prior to receiving certification. Certification is given by completing training with an accredited or certified school, and by taking exams in orthodontics. Altogether, training to be an orthodontist from early college onward may take about 10-15 years depending upon the country where certification is pursued. Some people may study further and get doctoral degrees in this field, which will lengthen time spent studying.
Along the way, and during study, people specializing should have lots of opportunities to work with people and determine that this is the career they truly want. Good orthodontists tend to build their practice by being good at their jobs and skilled with people. Special attention needs to be paid to how to interact successfully with kids and teens, since these often make up a majority of the orthodontist’s patients.