Lots of people that need to have their teeth straightened know that they will have to make an appointment with an orthodontist. But, there is more in the orthodontist job description than just straightening teeth. In this blog, our Burnaby orthodontists explain what an orthodontic specialist is and how a person becomes one.
Orthodontics, also called orthodontia, is a specialty field within the umbrella of dentistry. The main goal of orthodontics is to treat irregularities of a person's jaw and teeth, specifically occlusion and alignment. These treatments generally consist of braces.
Therefore an orthodontist is a specialist that works in the field of orthodontics.
What makes an orthodontist different from a dentist?
Generally, orthodontists and dentists work closely together to help you obtain the best oral health possible. Although, some of the conditions we mentioned earlier, will require you to make an appointment with your orthodontist so they can provide you with the treatment you need.
Just like you go to a heart surgeon when you need heart surgery instead of your family doctor, you have to see an orthodontist when you need your jaw and teeth aligned instead of your dentist.
How is a dentist's training different from an orthodontist's?
If you wish to be an orthodontic specialist in Canada, the first step is to become a dentist! Becoming a certified specialist in orthodontics typically takes about 12 years of formal university education from start to finish. It’s a lengthy process!
An orthodontist’s university career begins with a four-year bachelor’s degree, which is most often a Bachelor of Science degree. Then, they continue on to dental school, which usually takes 4 years.
After these 8 years of university, they are officially a general dentist! For lots of students, this is when they start their career as general dentists. However, some choose to pursue a dental specialty, including orthodontics.
To specialize in orthodontics, a dentist will have to complete another 3-year Master of Science Degree and a residency program. In addition to this, many schools require students to complete a further 1-2 years of formal training as a general dentist before starting a specialty residency, such as a hospital residency.
After graduation from the orthodontic specialty residency program, the graduate will then need to pass the national dental specialty board certification exam, which is governed by the Royal College of Dentists of Canada. If they pass, they will officially be a certified orthodontic specialist.