Orthodontist Colleges and Classes

Orthodontists are dentists who specialize in straightening teeth and fixing bites. Learn about this career, including education requirements, classes you'll take and possible colleges to attend. Schools offering Dental Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Aspiring orthodontists need to complete specific undergraduate coursework in order to apply to dental school. Once admitted, they can take courses focused on orthodontics by the second year of a 4-year dental program. After graduating from dental school, prospective orthodontics complete a residency in their specialty and must pass a licensing exam for their state.

Degrees Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM)
Training Hands-on training, clinical rotations, seminars; orthodontics residency after dental school
Courses Medical ethics, oral heath promotions, biochemistry, orthodontic simulations, restorative clinics and more

What College Education Is Required to Become an Orthodontist?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that future orthodontists need to enroll in a dental school accredited by the American Dental Association in order to pursue a career. The standard dental school degree is either a Doctor of Dental Surgery or a Doctor of Dental Medicine. Those degrees are equivalent to each other, meaning either title can be used for this career. To earn a doctorate in this field, you can expect to complete four years of dental school training, which includes hands-on experience seeing patients at a university hospital under the supervision of an experienced orthodontist.

What are the Prerequisites for Dental School?

The BLS reports that many dental schools require at least two years of a baccalaureate education prior to entering a dental program. Your studies at the undergraduate level may be in a pre-dental program or similar medical or scientific program, such as biology or anatomy. To be accepted to a dental program, you'll need to pass the Dental Admission Test (DAT), which measures your scientific knowledge and quantitative reasoning skills, among others.

Where Can I Attend College?

There are many schools of dental medicine across the country. This list outlines just a few of them for your review:

  • Tufts School of Dental Medicine (Boston, MA): orthodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • UIC College of Dentistry (Chicago, IL): treatment and diagnosis planning, critical thinking and problem solving, biomechanics
  • UPenn School of Dental Medicine (Philadelphia, PA): TMJ therapy, orthognathic surgery, oral biology of adolescents and adults
  • Columbia University College of Dental Medicine (New York, New York): edgewise mechanotherapy modifications, segmental arch technique, adult orthodontics, pediatric dentistry
  • University of Tennessee College of Dentistry (Nashville, TN): radiology and cephalometrics, craniofacial growth, surgical correction of dentofacial deformities

What Are Some Typical Classes?

A dental school's curriculum includes science and general practice courses that are required across all fields of dentistry, such as medical ethics, oral health promotion, immunology and biochemistry. By the second to fourth year of dental school, you can take dental-focused courses and begin clinical experiences. Examples of courses you might take in your second to fourth year include:

  • Craniofacial functions
  • Restorative clinics
  • Oral pathology
  • Orthodontic simulations

Generally, you can expect to focus on orthodontics beginning in your second year of dental school. Orthodontics training includes lecture and lab courses, clinical rotations and seminars. The courses and hands-on training required to become an orthodontist generally take place on-campus or in medical settings; online study is typically not available in this field.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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