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How Much Does It Cost To Become An Orthodontist

Last Updated on November 13, 2022 by Omoyeni Adeniyi

Going to college can be a fun, sometimes overwhelming time in your life. The number of active orthodontists is lower because many are retired or no longer practice dentistry. Becoming an orthodontist is a long road that begins with earning a dental degree at one of the colleges where they offer this specialized education. So do you want to go down the long road and know more about How Much Does It Cost To Become An Orthodontist, orthodontics residency cost, how many years to become an orthodontist & orthodontist salary.

how to become an orthodontist

When people find out I’m a resident in orthodontics, one of the first things they tell me besides their own experience with braces is how fantastic and cushy my future lifestyle will be. That’s open for debate. While people are generally aware of the amount of work and dedication it takes to become a dental specialist, little do they know about the financial costs. With the cost of attendance for dental school increasing every year coupled with the sky high costs for dental residency, let’s crunch some numbers to see what it takes (financially) to become a dental specialist. Spoiler alert: it costs a million dollars — or more — to become an orthodontist.

If you are interested with health, enjoy working with people, and would like the opportunity to own your own business, a career as an orthodontist may be well suited to you.

When you become an orthodontist, you will have the rewarding task of helping people to perfect their smiles.

There are many reasons that people see an orthodontist.

Some people go an orthodontist for purely cosmetic reasons, while others may go to correct much more serious problems such as difficulty chewing, speaking, as well as sleep apnea.

A patient is usually referred to an orthodontist by a dentist or a general practitioner.

An orthodontist will diagnose a patient using a variety of methods, then formulate a plan to correct any misalignments.

Orthodontists may use retainers, braces, or headgear as a method of aligning teeth, and many treatment programs can take several years to complete.

Orthodontist Responsibilities

Orthodontists are licensed dentists who specialize in the art of properly aligning teeth for better oral health, better overall health, more effective and comfortable bite, and greater smile confidence.

Each patients’ case is unique, so orthodontists must have a broad knowledge and experience in a wide variety of treatment techniques and appliances.

They use different instruments, equipment, and technology to assist them in the correction of malocclusions, including dental radiographs (x-rays), digital imaging and predictive modeling, and appliances such as braces, clear removable aligners, palatal expanders, and much more.

In addition to working with patients, orthodontists are often responsible for leading a team of dental professionals, which requires directing and supervising dental assistants and hygienists, and working with office managers to keep the office running smoothly.

Those orthodontists who go into private practice will also be responsible for the many aspects of small business ownership, including paying taxes and office rental fees, tracking budgets, hiring, supervising, and discipling staff, and much more.

Top Orthodontist Skills

According to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), both dentists and specialits like orthodontists need a variety of exceptional traits to excel in this field.

Some important traits for effective dentists and orthodontists:

  • Leadership
  • Passion and excitement for the field
  • Trustworthy
  • Caring and concerned for patient experience
  • Good communicator and approachable
  • Knowledgeable and artistic in the art of dentistry

Orthodontists also need to have a wide knowledge of the literature, and an understanding of the mechanics and physics of dental movement, as well as skilled with precise hand movements for orthodontic procedures.


how many years to become an orthodontist

Orthodontists need many years of training before being ready to practice.

If you want to become an orthodontist you will first need a bachelor’s degree in science and will have to take the Dental Admission Test (DAT).

Based on your results at this test, you will be accepted to a dental school.

After graduating from dental school you will earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine degree and you will need to study for another three years to become an orthodontist.

Finally, you are required to complete between 2 and 4 years in a residency program.

Almost all states require a license in order to be able to practice.

Schedule & Work Environment

Orthodontist often work full-time, but there are options for part-time work, including for semi-retired orthodontists. Every office schedules differently: some larger practices are open 7 days a week, with a rotating staff of orthodontists and assistants that take turns working weekends. Others are only open Monday through Friday, or for certain hours on certain days.

If you choose to open your own practice, you will have a great deal of flexibility in setting your hours, which is one reason people choose to follow this route.

The work environment is fast-paced and bustling: many orthodontist work with other dental professionals, serving multiple patients at once in different areas of the office. All orthodontist offices are required to comply with state and federal health and safety regulations, to protect staff and patients in a medical setting

dental braces price in Nigeria – Nigerian Infopedia

Top Orthodontic Residency Programs

According to the Commission on Dental Accreditation, there are currently 68 orthodontic residency programs in the U.S. Below are some of the top programs in the country, ranked for the quality of training, post-residency placements, research, and more.

  • University of Michigan. The orthodontics program at University of Michigan is the oldest in the country. It incorporates a wide array of clinical trainings, producing expertly-trained, comprehensive orthodontists.
  • University of North Carolina. This competitive program is attached the University of North Carolina’s top-ranked dental school in Chapel Hill.
  • University of Maryland. This university boasts the country’s first dental school, and its award-winning orthodontic program produces some of the country’s finest orthodontists.
  • Maimonides Medical Center: This large teaching hospital is located in Brooklyn, New York. This program is competitive, for its ideal location and its unusually generous stipend: first-year residents make more than $51,000.
  • Montefiore Medical Center: This program is located in the Bronx, New York, and offers top-of-the-line instruction and a $60,000 stipend throughout the residency.

Getting Licensed to Practice Orthodontics

After you have successfully completed an orthodontic residency, you’ll be ready to start practicing orthodontics. To do so, you must have passed the national dental board exam, as well as the state licensing requirements in the state where you intend to practice. The licensing requirements for orthodontists are the same as for dentists.

Orthodontists can also choose to become board-certified by the American Board of Orthodontics (ABO), but in the U.S. board certification isn’t necessary to practice (it is required in Canada). The orthodontic board certification consists of written and clinical examinations. You can learn more about getting board certified on the website of the American Board of Orthodontics.

Most orthodontists have already taken the National Board Dental Examination before beginning their residency: all practicing medical professionals must periodically recertify and complete continuing education courses throughout their career.

State licensing requirements vary, but nearly all states require passage of a “jurisprudence exam”, which tests your knowledge of that state’s dental laws. There may be other clinical exams or licensing requirements: you can find your state’s dental licensing requirements on the American Dental Association’s state-by-state licensure database.

Dental Braces Types, Cost and Procedure - Nearby Dental

Staying Licensed

Like all medical professionals, orthodontists are required to keep their licensure up to date with continuing education and regular recertification.

In the majority of states, orthodontists and dentists must complete 40 hours of professional education a year. This ensures dental professionals are caught up on the latest research and clinical developments in their respective fields, to provide the highest-quality, up-to-date treatment for their patients. State re-licensing varies: consult your state’s dental board for more information on how to stay up-to-date with your dental license.

orthodontist salary

With an estimated half of the population in the United States having misaligned teeth, there is plenty of work about for a qualified orthodontist.

Orthodontists enjoy good working conditions, usually working 30-40 hour weeks in private clinics or day surgery centers, while some may work out of hospitals.

The majority of orthodontist are self-employed and the median wage for an orthodontist is $166,000 a year.

Most orthodontists will stay in this career throughout their working life.

Others may go into other areas of dentistry, or become teachers or researchers.

Some examples of these positions include:

  • Dentist
  • Dental surgeon
  • Medical doctor
  • Researcher
  • Professor

When you become an orthodontist, you can look forward to excellent career prospects and a very good salary.

If you are interested in health, as well as working closely with patients to achieve excellent results, then you might like to consider a career as an orthodontist.The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.

Average Cost of Braces: Age, Type, Insurance, Other Factors
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Kentucky– NA –
New Jersey$240,110
New Mexico$214,050
New York$194,590
North Carolina$263,040
South Carolina$269,180

orthodontics residency cost

Your final educational  step to becoming an orthodontist is to match into residency. Most orthodontic residency programs are 3 years in length. Who’s ready to start their NYU Orthodontics residency?

Room & Board$27,966$33,560$33,560 
Personal Expenses$3,888$4,666$4,666 
Transportation $2,272 $2,726 $2,726 
Loan Fees$216$216$216 
Living Expenses

Your total for NYU orthodontics comes out to $367,463. Again, we’re making the assumption of no annual 2-3% tuition increases. Your cumulative educational expenses (undergrad + dental school +residency), including living expenses, come out to $1,175,283. Even if you’re able to cut down these already ‘average’ living expenses by $175K during your 10+ years of school, you’re still taking out one million dollars to become an orthodontist.

And don’t forget, your unsubsidized loans have been accruing interest during your 7 years of graduate education. With current interest rates set at 5.31% (Direct Unsubsidized) and 6.31% (Grad Plus) for graduate students, and 3.76% (Direct Unsubsidized) for undergraduate students, a significant portion of your monthly income will be thrown at paying off your debt. Thinking about a mortgage, kids, or a decent car? Keep on thinking.

What to Do After Graduating an Orthodontic Residency

Once you’ve completed your training and licensure as an orthodontist, it’s time to look for a job.

There a variety of resources to help you find work as an orthodontist:

  1. Professional association job boards. The American Dental Association and the American Association of Orthodontists both host job boards where practices and medical facilities can share hiring notices. Joining a professional association is also an excellent networking opportunity, and a way to connect with your colleagues across the country. Both the ADA and the AAO sponsor conferences each year, where dentists and orthodontists can connect and learn about the newest developments in dental medicine.
  2. Online job sites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and CareerBuilder. These online sites are national clearinghouses for jobs in countless fields, and more and more companies and medical practices rely on them for staffing great employees. You can filter for preferences like full-time or part-time, distance from your home, and minimum salary, in order to find the right position for you.
  3. Your school or program’s job resources. Orthodontic residency programs, like all higher education institutions, are invested in helping their students find jobs after graduating: program ratings are closely tied to the employment rates of their alumni. For that reason, most CODA-accredited orthodontic residencies have resources to help their students find jobs. There may be an online job board, an email listserve, or dedicated career counselors that can help connect you to opportunities. Ask your professors or school administrators for help applying to jobs post-residency.

how much does it cost to become a dentist

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts dental jobs to grow by nineteen percent through 2026, which is much faster growth than other professions. This may be due to the rising accessibility of health care information, plus an aging population of Baby Boomers is increasing demand for better care. Whether you’re interested in becoming an orthodontist, prosthodontist, oral and maxillofacial surgeon, or general dentist, there will still be plenty of job security once you complete schooling and licensing.

Pursuing dental school is a costly endeavor, but with smart planning, you can pay back your loans sooner rather than later. We’re here to help you consider all the costs associated with dental school, preparing you for the many years of schooling ahead.

Use our guide below to explore the costs of dental school and what to expect.

Dental School Requirements

Most dental school programs require a four-year bachelor’s degree prior to admittance. Popular undergrad majors for dental students include chemistry, biology, and physics, but no specific major is required. To be accepted to a dental program, you must first take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). The DAT involves four tests covering the natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning.

Once you’re accepted, you will begin a four-year program to complete a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. During the first and second years of dental school, students take classroom and lab courses in health sciences like anatomy, biochemistry, histology, microbiology, pharmacology, and physiology. They will also study the basic principles of oral diagnosis and treatment. Third- and fourth-year students will begin to treat patients under licensed dentist supervision. This is when you’ll get a chance to explore community clinics, hospitals, and outpatient clinics. During these years, practice management courses also teach effective communication and business management to round out your education. (ADA)

To become a practicing dentist, students must earn a license. This requires graduation from a dental school accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, plus passing a written and practical exam in your state.


Private and Public Dental School Tuition

The cost of dental school will vary depending on where you study. Tuition is different across institutions, and the price of books, food, housing, and supplies are just as variable. Here is a breakdown of average costs by institution type:

$67,087  Tuition & Fees
In state Resident
$37,877  Tuition & Fees

According to the ADA and a survey by the Health Policy Institute, “In 2017-18, the average resident first-year cost of public dental school programs was $37,877 while the cost of private dental school programs was $67,087.”

Total Cost of Dental School

Over four years, a dental student can expect to pay anywhere from $151,508 (in-state, public school) to $268,348 (private school) and up. If you’re going right from undergrad to dental school, tacking on these costs probably sounds daunting. But according to BLS, the median salary of a dentist is $156,240, and the top earners make more than $208,000 per year. There are also many options for paying for dental school. Specialized loans, grants, scholarships, and affordable programs can make payment easier and automatic.

Going to dental school is a four-year commitment that will reap benefits for the rest of your life. With the right tools and research, you’ll be better equipped to make decisions that improve your future and build the foundation for a rewarding career.

how much does it cost to become a doctor

Medical tuition and fees vary and increase by about 2% to 3% every year. According to the AAMC, in 2018-2019, the average cost of public medical school is $36,755 per year for in-state students and $60,802 for out-of-state students.

Students attending private medical schools had higher average costs of around $59,775 per year.

Type of Medical School2018-20192019-2020
Public (In State)$36,755$37,556
Public (Out of State)$60,802$61,858

Table 1. Average Medical School Costs From 2018-2020

The table includes the cost of tuition, fees, and health insurance. Notably, public medical schools offer cheaper education for their resident students. Out-of-state public medical school and private medical school tuition are more or less the same.

This is the cost you will incur to get admitted to your chosen school. The miscellaneous and cost of living fees are still not inclusive. You may check out my article here wherein I provided a sample breakdown for your cost of living expenses such as housing, transportation, meals, reviews, etc.

Since medical education requires your full-time commitment (a day won’t even be enough for all the things you need to study), students cannot work part-time to compensate for this enormous financial responsibility. What they do is to apply for loans.

AAMC revealed that 76% of the students finish med school with some debt. In 2018, the median debt incurred per student reaches $200,000.

To pay for this unimaginable debt, students compete for high-paying residency programs. However, as a fresh graduate, most do not earn at their full potential for the 1st three to five years after graduation.

It takes a lot of years of practice and dedication to finally be paid back of what you invested for med school. Check here to know how much a doctor makes.

How Much Does It Cost To Become A Doctor In The UK?

How Much Does It Cost To Become A Doctor In The UK

Source: University of Oxford

The average medical education cost in the UK varies per school. For international students, it can reach as high as £38,000 per year.

For instance, at the Leicester Medical School, resident students pay only £9,250 annually including the iBSc. But if you live in a non-EU country, the tuition fee might double into £20,590 per year for the first two years, then over £40,000 for the succeeding years.

How Much Does It Cost To Become A Doctor In India?

Source: MCI India

Tuition fees in private medical schools offering MBBS courses can cost around Rs.15-40 lakhs and the management quota seats can cost Rs.55-80 lakhs.

Meanwhile, public medical schools are highly subsidized by the government at a cost ranging Rs.25,000-75,000, and slots are limited only to a chosen few.

2016 Salary Information for Dentists

Dentists earned a median annual salary of $158,390 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, dentists earned a 25th percentile salary of $110,030, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $201,830, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 153,500 people were employed in the U.S. as dentists.

How Much Does It Cost To Become A Doctor In India

It’s easy to see why orthodontists are in high demand. Their work is both lucrative and fulfilling, and the job market is growing rapidly as more people seek to fix their smiles through braces and other orthodontic treatments.

But becoming an orthodontist isn’t easy. It will take years of school and training before you can practice on your own, and even then there are additional requirements you’ll have to meet before becoming a fully licensed professional.

In addition to the cost of tuition for your doctorate program, you’re going to need money for books, fees for clinical training and licensing exams (not including those required by your state), as well as living expenses while you’re in school.

You should also consider whether you want to work with children or adults—each requires different training—and whether you want private practice or hospital-based work once you’ve completed all of your required training.

The good news is that there are many scholarships available through dental schools; some offer full-tuition scholarships while others provide partial assistance based on financial need. Also keep in mind that many companies offer financial assistance through educational loan programs if they believe they’ll benefit from hiring an employee who has already invested

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