Orthodontist Career

Orthodontist Career

An orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in diagnosing and treating malocclusion (misalignment of the teeth and/or jaws).

The orthodontist career, then, involves orthodontic treatment intended to align teeth with regards to the supporting soft tissues, with or without movement of the jaw bones depending on whether the patient suffers from Class I Malocclusion (normal molar placement but crowded teeth), Class II Malocclusion (overbite), or Class III Malocclusion (underbite). The misaligned jaw bones can be moved either through orthopedic or orthognathic movements. Orthodontic treatment with metal braces or clear braces is most commonly performed to correct the first type of dental malocclusion in which teeth are crowded.

Orthopedic movements are achieved (mostly on growing children) through the precise use of namely acrylic functional orthodontic appliances that change the position of the jaws relative to each other and to the face. An orthodontist uses these orthopedic appliances to control the development of an adolescent's jawline for aesthetic and functional improvement.

To attain orthognathic movement, the jaws are surgically repositioned in patients that have finished growing. Treatment of this nature is performed by maxillofacial (relating to the upper jaw and face) surgeons who work side by side with the orthodontic team.

The median orthodontist salary as of July 2006 was $112,993 in the United States--salary ranging from $92,829 (25th percentile) to $137,006 (75th percentile). As orthodontia is increasingly performed on children, teens and adults to aesthetically and functionally correct malocclusion, the average orthodontist salary is considerable, particularly as compared with non-specialized professions in dentistry.