Orthodontist Education


An orthodontist is a dental specialist and to become one requires an additional 2 to 3 years of advanced education and training after acquiring a D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or a D.M.D. (Doctor of Dental Medicine).  This means anywhere from 4 to 8 years of post undergraduate education through orthodontic residency programs. There are around 63 programs that are accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) and all are competitive to be accepted into because there are a limited number of positions, anywhere from 1 to 15, and numerous applicants as orthodontists are the largest dental specialty group. The University of Pacific gets around 200 applications every year for its 8 positions. Completion of an orthodontist program results in a certificate, master’s degree, or both depending on the school. There are also a few schools that offer PhDs in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics which is designed for those looking to hold teaching or higher positions.

Orthodontic training can consist of graduate level didactic courses on advanced topics, clinical courses, research, seminars, projects, teaching, a thesis, and hands on training at facilities. The important part of the training is hands on experience with different cases. One of the criteria for a quality school is the number of patients and the varying level of cases the resident is involved in. Some residents choose an orthodontist school that has more high level research courses like the UCLA School of Dentistry.

Orthodontist School Requirements

Every school has their own specific admission requirements and most applicants will go through a similar process as applying for dental school.  Most orthodontist education and training programs require completion of dental school, National Board Dental Exam (NBDE) scores Part I, dental school transcripts, GRE score (for programs with graduate level courses), Curriculum Vitae, personal essay, and strong letters of recommendation. Some schools set minimum scores on the GPA and the GRE to be even considered. There are other factors that each school may use in determining candidates. Class rank and the dean’s evaluation are two that are used by many schools. TOEFL scores are also required for applicants whose native language is not English, mainly international students.  Most orthodontist schools participate in the American Dental Education Association‘s Postdoctoral Application Support Service (PASS) which is a centralized postdoctoral application process where applicants can submit their material to one location and apply to multiple programs.  Visit the pass website at http://www.adea.org/DENTAL_EDUCATION_PATHWAYS/PASS/Pages/default.aspx. Some schools also participate in the Postdoctoral Dental Matching Program http://www.natmatch.com/dentres/.

Orthodontist Education Cost

The majority of orthodontic schools require tuition which ranges depending on the school and other fees and equipment costs. The Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health’s tuition and fee for the 2008-2009 year was $48,825 and for Harvard University the cost was $48,250. Tuition can come in the form of the cost of certificate program as well as graduate courses that need to be taken. A few schools pay residents a stipend. The program at the School of Dentistry at UAB offers a stipend for residents in the 2nd and 3rd year if funds are available. Ohio State University waives tuition for residents in its orthodontic graduate program and pays a stipend of $12,000.

Tips for Orthodontic Residency Programs

  • Listed below are some helpful tips to keep in mind when applying to an orthodontist residency program.
  • Doing an externship or getting to know the faculty and staff of the desired school can give an insight to the program and show interest.
  • Really understand the reasons for picking an institution such as high ABO pass rates, quality clinical experience, or research opportunities.
  • Pick a school that has a higher percentage of picking you. Look at the various requirements such as what GPA, class rank, National Board Dental Examination Part I scores, type of program (certificate, master’s, PhD), and number of students accepted.
  • Look at the school’s curriculum. Look for projects, research, clinical requirements, graduation requirements to see if they fit you. Some require taking the ABO written tests while others require a thesis or other finishing piece.
  • Apply early and make sure to double check all admission requirements. Contact the admissions director because many places do not call applicants for incomplete applications.
  • Get high scores on those test required by each school’s unique admission requirements such as the National Board Dental Examination Part I, GRE, and dental school GPA. There are orthodontic programs that set limits for all these scores.
  • Make sure to get strong letters of recommendation and give those filling the forms out proper time to complete.
  • Build a precise and strong curriculum vitae.

List of Orthodontist Residency Programs

School of Dentistry at UAB
A.T. Still University Arizona
Loma Linda University
UCLA
USC
University of California at San Francisco
University of Pacific
University of Connecticut
Howard University
Washington Hospital Center
Nova Southeastern University
University of Florida
Jacksonville University
Medical College of Georgia
University of Iowa
University of Illinois at Chicago
Indiana University
University of Kentucky
University of Louisville
LSU
Boston University
Harvard University
Tufts University
University of Maryland Baltimore
University of Michigan
University of Detroit Mercy
University of Minnesota
Mayo Graduate School of Medicine
University of Missouri-Kansas
Saint Louis University
University of North Carolina
University of Nebraska
University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey
UNLV
University of Southern Nevada
Montefiore Medical Center
St. Barnabas Hospital
Maimonides Medical Center
SUNY at Buffalo
Columbia University
New York University
University of Rochester
SUNY at Stony Brook
Case Western Reserve Univ. School
Ohio State University
University of Oklahoma
Oregon Health and Science University
Seton Hill University
Albert Einstein Medical Center
Temple University
University of Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh
University of Puerto Rico
Medical University of South Carolina
University of Tennessee
Baylor College of Dentistry
University of Texas at Houston
University of Texas at San Antonio
Wilford Hall Medical Center
Virginia Commonwealth University
University of Washington
Marquette University
West Virginia University