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Orthodontists dedicate their career to aligning and straightening people’s teeth for cosmetic or functional reasons. They also perform diagnoses, examination, and treatment of oral conditions and abnormalities. Orthodontists will review the medical history of a patient and come up with a treatment plan before they recommend treatment options.

Educational Track


Schooling is critical if you want to pursue this career. You will go through 11 years of university education to become a licensed orthodontist. These years include an undergraduate program that will last for 2 to 4 years. You will also go through 4 years of dental school and 2 to 3 years of a postgraduate orthodontic program.

Qualifications for Applying for an Undergraduate Dental Program

Most schools will accept you for an undergraduate dental program after they confirm that you hold a bachelor’s degree. However, a few of them admit those who have a minimum of 2 years in an undergraduate program. You will take a test administered by the American Dental Association and a Dental Admission examination after you apply for the pre-dental course. Once admitted, you will major in any of the science courses. They include biology, chemistry, and physics.

Dental School

Graduating from a dental school takes an average of four years. In the first two years, you will learn the science courses such as biochemistry, microbiology, physiology, and anatomy. Licensed dentists will guide you in the next two years to help you gain clinical experience. During this time, you will learn various specialties including orthodontics, prosthodontics, periodontics, maxillofacial surgery, and pediatric dentistry.

Postgraduate Orthodontics Program

You should apply for Specialty Programs through the Postdoctoral Application Support Service after you complete the dental program. The service is by the American Dental Education Association. You can fill one application and then apply for multiple programs. In most cases, the program lasts for three years. In this time, you will learn about all areas of orthodontics. You will become a qualified orthodontist after you complete this program.

Get Board Certification

After going through training, it is wise to get board certification to prove that you have gained knowledge and skills in the field. Take advantage of the voluntary accreditation offered by the American Board of Orthodontics. This certification is available to all orthodontists who pass a written clinical exam. Passing the written exam qualifies you for a clinical examination automatically.

Get a License

You need to get a license to practice as an orthodontist dentist. Graduating from an accredited dental school is a requirement for a licensing. You should pass a written and practical exam as well. In addition to the postgraduate examination, you should also sit for additional state exams. Once you receive a license, you can practice both orthodontics and dentistry depending on the regulations in your state.