As parents, we have a natural tendency to want the very best for our children, especially when it comes to their oral health. While most dental problems can be resolved by a dentist, more complicated problems like crooked or misaligned teeth, for example, will require that you schedule an appointment with a pediatric orthodontist. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, the ideal age to schedule your child’s first orthodontic visit is seven years old.
To The Facts
Studies have shown that by this age the child’s jaw has developed to the point where adult teeth start to protrude. Also, by this age, it is easier to identify how the child’s teeth and jaw will develop over time. In this article, we will take a closer look at the training required to become a pediatric-based orthodontist. Also, we detail some of the more common orthodontic treatments like braces and Invisalign, for example.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ADULT AND PEDIATRIC ORTHODONTIST?
Before detailing the specific training that a pediatric-based orthodontist must undergo to become licensed in his or her respective state, let’s take a moment to identify the difference between these two specialty dentists. Basically, pediatric orthodontics is not too far removed from adult orthodontics; however, practitioners who specialize in treating children will have to take additional courses specifically related to child psychology, clinical management, and child-related pharmacology. Beyond that, all practitioners must earn a bachelor’s degree and complete four years of dental school before going on to complete their specialty dentist training.
WHAT IS AN ORTHODONTIC PRACTITIONER?
If you’re not familiar with the role of an orthodontic practitioner, they are specialty dentist who, in addition to completing years of educations, use cutting-edge dental technology, medical expertise, and practical strategy to help improve their patient’s teeth. Along with improving the appearance and function of their patient’s teeth, orthodontic practitioners play a critical role in boosting self-esteem and overall confidence in the patients that they treat. To better contextualize this statement, several studies have shown an undeniable nexus between a child’s poor oral health and low self-esteem.
In fact, a study published by the National Institute of Health indicated that adolescents with orthodontic problems like malocclusion and anterior traumatic tooth, for example, struggle with psychosocial behavior, which adversely affects their self-esteem. The same also applies to younger children like those in elementary school, for example. Fortunately, advancement in dentistry has made it possible to resolve many of the problems that can contribute to child poor oral health and the poor self-esteem that often accompanies it.
ORTHODONTICS AS A CAREER CHOICE
The journey toward becoming a licensed orthodontic practitioner is long and arduous, but it is a career full of rewards. Also, the opportunity to change a patient’s life is often cited as the number one reason why many men and women choose a career in dentistry. Now that we have a better understanding of how orthodontics can improve our children’s smile and self-esteem, let’s take a closer look at what becoming an orthodontic practitioner entails:
There are several prerequisites that a prospective orthodontic student must meet before enrolling in orthodontic school, including completing preparatory courses. Ideally, a student should earn a bachelor’s degree in complexes sciences like chemistry or biology, for example. While it is not a requirement per se, students are strongly urged to enroll in a pre-dental program as they provide the best in terms of preparation in the field of orthodontics. It should be noted that being accepted into a pre-dental program can be challenging in that students will be required to not only have a strong academic background but also must provide references from former teachers in order to earn a seat in their dental school of choice.
Beyond that, successfully completing a pre-dental program and earning an undergraduate degree helps improves the likelihood of passing the required Dental Admission Test, a multiple-choice standardized test taken by prospective dental school students. Whether pursuing a career in orthodontia or general dentistry, passing the Dental Admission Test is a critical step towards becoming a licensed dental practitioner.
WHAT DOES THE DENTAL ADMISSION TEST ENTAIL?
The Dental Admission Test is subdivided into four categories, which include natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning. Students who are interested in pursuing any career in dentistry are required to score 17 or higher on these test before they can be admitted to any dental school. That said, most students will take college courses like calculus, English, and organic chemistry that helps prepare them for the exam. Along with passing the exam, dental students are required to have a college GPA of 3.0 or higher to be accepted.
After satisfying all of the requirement necessary to enroll in dental school and earning a dental license, students interested in a career in orthodontia will have to further their education by enrolling in an orthodontic school. Similar to dental school, being admitted into an orthodontic program is very challenging in that only students with a top academic record will be considered for enrollment. While enrolled in orthodontic school, students will take courses involving the study of misaligned teeth with a strong emphasis on abnormalities involving the patient’s jaw. Some of these specific courses include
- Restorative dentistry including braces and other treatments
- Handling orthodontic materials
- Oral surgery
- Developmental anatomy
- TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders
- Orthodontic diagnosis
- Preventative dentistry
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In order to become a licensed orthodontic practitioner, students must successfully complete each of these courses and also pass an orthodontic exam, which is administered by the American Board of Orthodontics and includes both a written and clinical test. It should also be noted that all orthodontic practitioners are required to renew their license every 10 years to continue practicing in their respective state. Call Dr. King today.
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The Training of a Pediatric Orthodontist (CASE STUDY)