What does an orthodontist do?

Orthodontists work with people who have issues related to the alignment of their teeth or jaw. This includes the diagnosis of conditions using sophisticated dental equipment and X-rays, and putting in place a treatment plan. These treatment plans often involve the use of braces. Orthodontists also work with other medical and dental professionals in complex cases to ensure a comprehensive and effective treatment plan is in place for the patient.

Tasks:

  • Diagnose dental conditions
  • Use dental equipment and X-rays
  • Prepare and implement treatment plans
  • Liaise with other dental and medical professionals
  • Periodically monitor and adjust orthodontic appliances

What skills do I need to be an orthodontist?

Orthodontists must have excellent people skills, particularly with children and young people. They must have exceptional hand-eye coordination, and be able to work precisely. It is also important that orthodontists have a comprehensive understanding of orthodontic technologies and procedures, and that this knowledge remains current throughout their career.
Skills/attributes
  • People skills
  • Manual dexterity
  • Capacity for detailed and precise work
  • Thorough understanding of orthodontic technology and procedures
  • Keen critical-thinking and decision-making skills

Specialisations

Becoming an orthodontist is already a highly specialised position, and therefore options for further specialisation are limited. Senior orthodontists may move into management roles, however, and others may choose to pursue teaching and academia.

Management

Orthodontists generally work in private practice, and later in their career, some decide to open their own practice or take on management responsibilities within an existing business. When undertaking these roles – in addition to the day-to-day duties that an orthodontist performs – managers will also have tasks to attend to including staff management, budget management, client administration, as well as contracts and property leasing responsibilities.

Teaching

Senior orthodontists may choose to take on roles teaching the next generation of dentists and orthodontists. These roles involve preparation and delivery of lessons, setting and marking assignments, as well as student-related administration tasks. Some orthodontists may take on roles like this on a part-time basis in addition to their day-to-day work with clients in orthodontic clinics.

Study pathways for bricklayers

To become an orthodontist you must be a qualified dentist with at least two years’ clinical experience. Then you will be required to complete a postgraduate qualification in orthodontics and register with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Agency.

Getting Started

Before committing to a long course of study, a vocational qualification in dental assisting may give you a feel for employment within this setting.

Skill Building

To become a qualified orthodontist, you’ll need to undertake an AHPRA accredited general dental degree, as well as two years’ clinical experience. In addition, you’ll need to complete a three-year postgraduate qualification in orthodontics.

Professional Development

Orthodontists looking to move into management roles may find it valuable to complete a management qualification, while those wishing to move into teaching positions can undertake further study to provide them with the necessary tools to be an effective teacher.

Industry Recognition

To practise as an orthodontist in Australia, you must be registered with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Agency. Voluntary membership with the Australasian Orthodontic Board can also improve employment opportunities.

Getting a job after graduation

Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your orthodontics career. Take a look at our sample resume and cover letter and put your best foot forward when you apply for orthodontist jobs.

Job Prospects and Salaries

Orthodontists tend to be paid very well, and demand for orthodontists is growing strongly. This is, however, a relatively small field, so there are limited employment opportunities in some parts of Australia.