Starting a career as an orthodontist gives you the skills and expertise to diagnose, prevent and treat dental and facial irregularities. This career path is one of the respected groups of specialists in the field of dentistry. Additionally, this career path can bring numerous career benefits. An orthodontist is qualified to correct issues such as misaligned teeth, crowded teeth, underbites and other dental problems.


This career path is highly respected in the healthcare sector because of the ability of orthodontists to improve people’s lives. They help patients achieve a healthy and beautiful smile by giving them a comfortable and effective treatment experience. Pursuing a career as an orthodontist is a great career decision. However, you need to be ready to put in the work in making research and studying.


In this piece, I will discuss the important steps to take when starting a career as an orthodontist.


Steps to Start a Career as an Orthodontist

  1. Complete your secondary education

    You need to start building the right foundations from your secondary school if you want to pursue a career as an orthodontist. Firstly, you should have a strong foundation in science subjects. You should have good grades in subjects such as Chemistry, Biology, Physics and English Language.

  2. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

    You need to apply to an accredited university and study to gain a bachelor’s degree. You must have a bachelor’s degree before you can enrol in dental school. Most dental schools prefer degrees in areas such as chemistry, physics, mathematics and biology. These degrees are one of the best ways to apply and gain acceptance into dental school.

  3. Attend a Dental School

    The dental school will give you the required education and training that you need to become a licensed dentist. This school takes about three to four years. However, you must have passed the Dental Admission Test(DAT) before you can gain entrance into the dental school.

  4. Gain Practical Experience in the Healthcare field

    After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, you should apply for an internship in a hospital or a dental clinic. This is crucial as it enables you to gain experience and essential skills. It also provides opportunities for networking and career counselling. Completing a dental internship opens doors to a successful dental career.

  5. Get a Dental License

    A license in dentistry is an official permission to practice as a dentist. Without a license, you will not be allowed to attend to patients or even treat patients who need oral medical attention. Before you can collect your license, you must have obtained a bachelor’s degree and completed the internship program.

  6. Undergo the Orthodontic Residency Program

    The program is an additional program, especially for aspiring orthodontists. This program lasts for about three to five years. You will learn about the extensive clinical and didactic training in the field of orthodontics. Additionally, you will learn the proper guidance of dental and facial development during this program.

  7. Get an Orthodontist License

    After completing the orthodontist residency program, you must apply for an orthodontist license. You will not be able to practice as an orthodontist without this license. However, you must have completed your residency program and pass a series of tests before you can get this license.

  8. Choose an Area of specialisation

    There are various specialisations you can choose to focus on as an orthodontist. You can focus on different areas such as the pediatric, adult, and lingual orthodontist. Becoming a specialist as an orthodontist can give you a unique identity and open doors for more opportunities.

  9. Develop Soft Skills

    As an orthodontist, the training and knowledge you received from dental school and the residency program are not enough to build a successful career. You need to develop soft skills that will enable you to relate with your patients as well as carry out your duties efficiently. You should build skills such as communication skills, dexterity, patience, detail-oriented, organizational skills, stamina and problem-solving.

  10. Continuous Learning

    Just like other careers in the healthcare sector, you need to continue learning to have a successful career as an orthodontist. You should invest time in studying and attending seminars.

  11. Join Professional Associations

    A professional association can enable you to gain access to opportunities, give you room to network with professionals, open doors to mentorship and give guidance in your career pursuit. You must register and join a professional association in your field.

Types of Orthodontists

  1. Lingual Orthodontists

    These are orthodontists who specialize in areas such as lingual braces. They are braces that are placed on the inside of the teeth.

  2. Invisalign Orthodontists

    These are orthodontists who specialize in clear aligners, such as Invisalign. They are clear plastic trays that are worn over the teeth to gradually move them into the desired position.

  3. Pediatric Orthodontists

    These are orthodontists who specialize in treating children and teenagers. Additionally, they use braces or other orthodontic appliances to correct misaligned teeth or jaws.

  4. Orthodontic Surgeons

    These are orthodontists who specialize in correcting severe jaw and facial irregularities.

  5. Adult Orthodontists

    These are orthodontists who specialize in treating adults. Additionally, they use braces, clear aligners, or other orthodontic appliances to correct misaligned teeth or jaws in adult patients.

  6. TMJ Orthodontists

    These orthodontists are specialists in treating disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which can lead to jaw pain and discomfort.

Universities to Study Dentistry in Africa

  1. University of Lagos, Nigeria
  2. Cairo University, Egypt
  3. University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
  4. Alexandria University, Egypt
  5. University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  6. Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
  7. University of Capetown, South Africa
  8. Ain Shams University, Egypt
  9. University of Nairobi, Kenya
  10. Mansoura University, Egypt
  11. University of Pretoria, South Africa
  12. Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria
  13. University of Zimbabwe
  14. Misr International University, Egypt
  15. University of Nigeria, Nigeria


In summary, a career in orthodontics offers excellent growth potential as well as potential financial rewards. Furthermore, since this career path allows you to open a private clinic with your license, it allows you to work for yourself. Orthodontic services are becoming more and more necessary, which presents a lucrative opportunity. Aspiring orthodontists can have a rewarding career with hard work and dedication to the field.

Good luck!

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