Orthodontist Colleges and Classes

Orthodontists are dentists who specialize in straightening teeth and fixing bites. Learn about this career, including education and licensure requirements. 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.

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?

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), as an aspiring orthodontist, you'll need to enroll in an ADA-accredited dental school before you can pursue a career. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the standard dental school degree is either a Doctor of Dental Surgery or a Doctor of Dental Medicine. Both 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.

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.

How Do These Classes Prepare Me for a Career as an Orthodontist?

After you complete dental school, you'll need to take a National Board Dental Exam offered by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE) to become licensed in your state. You might also be required to complete a residency before you can earn your license, according to the BLS. As an orthodontist, you can expect to straighten the teeth of a patient through pressurized equipment, such as braces. The BLS states that orthodontists are the largest specialty group of dental professions in the United States.

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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