Becoming a dental specialist like an orthodontist is no easy task. Specialists are committed and passionate about a certain dentistry niche, going above and beyond in all aspects of their training and career in order to provide the best service and results to patients. Though specialists are not required for any procedures, they should be. For example, any general dentist can perform a root canal, but this job should be left to an endodontist (a type of dental surgeon). Even a seemingly simple procedure can end up costly and painful if the right expert isn’t in charge.
Orthodontists specialize in realigning teeth, either for aesthetic or functional reasons. Among the methods for doing so include Invisalign, traditional braces and the Damon System. Patients who want a certain type of approach and who are good candidates for it should find an orthodontist with plenty of experience with that system. Ask for before-and-after pictures, details of the orthodontist’s continuing education and how many patients they’ve treated before with the system you are interested in.
A Long Road to a Gorgeous Smile
It might seem that two years of wearing braces is a lifetime, especially to a 12-year-old. However, it takes much, much longer for a dentist to become an orthodontist — which is good news for patients. Orthodontists first need to obtain their doctoral degree (DMD or DDS) from an accredited university. This means earning an undergraduate degree in a related field (like pre-medicine, biology or physics). Most dental schools require candidates to take the Dental Admission Test, administered via the American Dental Association, which is kind of like the SAT for dental schools.
Most dental programs last four years, and upon graduation, dentists are officially doctors. The first half of this program is usually spent in the classroom studying theory. The second half is all about practical experience, working in dental offices with full-fledged dentists. This is where dentists in the making can choose their specialty, like orthodontics. For those who fall in love with this niche, the next step is a postgraduate program in orthodontics.
The Halfway Mark
After eight years of higher education (four as an undergraduate and four in dental school), orthodontists pursue a specialty postgraduate program. The majority of orthodontic programs take three years. This extra training focuses on methodology, orthodontic procedures and culminates in a big research project. Next up is board certification, which has different requirements in each state. This exam can only be taken after 18 months of a postgraduate orthodontics training program. Those who pass move on to the clinical exam.
Finally are the licensing requirements, which vary from state to state. Passing the orthodontics licensing requirements lets dentists practice as both orthodontists and general dentists. Make sure you get the best ortho treatment by calling Johnson Elite Orthodontics today, Utah’s premier dental specialists.