Orthodontists are specialists in issues related to the alignment of teeth. They generally perform in private practices with clients of all ages – most commonly with children or young adult requiring braces. Orthodontists are in high demand as people continue to seek out dental work to correct alignment issues, or to appease their cosmetic interests. All aspiring orthodontists must complete a general dental degree, practical experience and have a post graduate qualification in orthodontics to begin practicing in Australia.
Orthodontists work with people who have concerns related to the alignment of their teeth or jaw. The role encompasses everything from the diagnosis to the treatment of dental alignment issues. Orthodontists are responsible for using dental equipment, x-rays and other dental tools to achieve the desired result. This all begins with liaising with a general dentist and organising a treatment plan for the patient.
Orthodontists must have exceptional communication skills, especially in regards to children and young people, as they must be able to make their patients feel comfortable. As it does with any dentistry professional, the job requires excellent hand-eye coordination and a detailed understanding of everything relating to orthodontics in order to provide the best possible treatment.
It is difficult to specialise within orthodontics as being an orthodontist is already a specialisation in itself. However, it is possible to move into other positions related to the field.
As most orthodontists work in private practices, some decide to open up their own businesses or move into management roles later on in their careers. These orthodontists will usually continue to perform their regular duties whilst also taking on management duties such as staff management, client admin and handling property or lease agreements.
Orthodontists need to learn from someone, and the best way to learn is from someone with experience. Experienced orthodontists may choose to move on into teaching roles, meaning they have to maintain their dental/orthodontic knowledge and prepare and deliver lessons, assignments and exams for their students. It is common for orthodontists to continue practicing on a part-time basis whilst teaching on the side.
Being an orthodontist requires being a qualified dentists with at least two years experience in a clinical setting. It is then essential to successfully finish a postgraduate degree in orthodontists and registered with the AHPRA.
Many people begin their careers in dentistry by completing vocational courses and moving into positions like dental assisting. Starting at entry-level can give you a good understanding for the industry and help you decide if you really want to commit to further study and career progression.
All aspiring orthodontist must complete a general dental degree and complete two years worth of clinical experience. This must be followed by a postgraduate degree in orthodontics, which takes approximately three years.
Those who choose to move into management or teaching position may decide to complete further study to give them the background and qualifications they need.
To practice as an orthodontist in Australia, you must register with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Agency. Registering with the Australasian Orthodontic Board is not compulsory but may improve employment opportunities.
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Orthodontists are very well paid and in high demand, but the field remains quite small, making acquiring a position very competitive.