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What kind of knowledge do you need to know when wanting to become an orthodontist , what kind of schooling would I need and how many years of school do I need to be able to become an ortho?

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Marini’s Answer

Hi Katherine,

It takes about 10 to 11 years to become an orthodontist post high school.

4 Years of Undergraduate School (Bachelor of Science Degree)
4 Years of Dental School
2 to 3 Years of a Residency Program

Check out:

Good luck!

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Amy’s Answer

Your question is right up my alley. I am a California dentist.

I would like to make an amendment to Zahid's wonderful answer. Zahid laid it out very well.

You only need to complete the college credit requirements that the dental school you are applying for requires. You do not have to graduate from college. However, I highly recommend it so you have that degree to fall back on. I know plenty of dentists who did not graduate from college and only did what was needed to get into dental school. They did it for purposes of saving money and time. That said dental schools have different basic requirements. You can find out what their requirements are by ordering a book from, I believe, the ADEA. It is quite inexpensive and may be about $55 or so. It is well worth it. It tells you what classes are required for gaining acceptance for each individual school. It tells you deadlines for applications, cost of application, where they are located, contact information, how many students they accept for each individual school, what states their students come from (In other words, the percentage of students they accept from each state.) and more. It really helped me in my application process.
As for orthodontics. The orthodontics program is now 2-3 years and can only be entered after dental school. Please note that general dentists can also do orthodontics for patients. You do not have to be an orthodontist. So, if continued education is not for you due to financial or family reasons, then please do not feel pressured to do extra schooling. I think, however, going to orthodontic school is an excellent opportunity and should be pursued if you gain acceptance and you feel you can go. You will have more indepth knowledge of research, bone physiology, craniofacial complex and how it can be manipulated with properly applied force and by surgery to achieve a functional and esthetic result for the patient and more. You will also be eligible to participate in craniofacial boards and orthognathic boards to help children in need, who have genetically caused deformaties negatively impacting their health, and adult patients needing surgery to correct craniofacial complex issues including open bite, cross bite, underbite and more.

One last item. Please understand that dental school wants you to keep an open mind when applying for dental school, but they are training you to be a general dentist. The solid advice given to me was that I should only discuss being a general dentist in my application to dental school and during my interviews. You have to decide what is best for you, not every school may mind if you discuss orthodontia, but I would recommend not to say you want to be a specialist at this time even if that is truly what you want to do at this point. I would, however, recommend that you do keep an open mind and see if there is another area of dentistry that peaks your interest, to include general dentistry. There are not officially recognized, but are "specialties" within general dentistry, like cosmetic dentistry, AEGD, GPR and operative.

Good luck in your applications. Study hard, keep your notes, do well on the DAT, join American Student Dental Association (ASDA), ask for excellent recommendations, write a cover letter, write a resume, volunteer, do research and you will be well on your way. Never give up! ;)

Amy recommends the following next steps:

Join ASDA, it will help you on your interviews to know what is going on with dental students and in the dental field.
Buy the National Dental Schools book from the ADEA.
Research the schools you are interested in. See who are the professors and what research they are conducting. It will look good on your interviews that you know the staff.
Look up the schools curriculum and see if it fits your needs. I highly suggest a research oriented school for you to give you a leg up for orthodontic school if that is truly what you want.
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Zahid’s Answer

As with many careers, becoming an orthodontist requires the completion of several educational programs and degrees. The successful completion of this ensures you have the knowledge and skills necessary to become a qualified orthodontist. Here are the requirements for orthodontics school:

* High school
* Undergraduate university (4 years)
* Dental school (4 years)
* Orthodontics specialty education (1-2 years)

For details check out: