Orthodontics is one of the most popular dentistry fields that deal with the correction of teeth misalignments and malocclusions. Moreover, enhancement of the natural smile of a patient. While becoming a trained orthodontist may not be a viable option for all students. There are alternative career options that can bring you closer to learning more about this field.
One among them is to become an orthodontist assistant. It is an excellent choice of career for dentistry people, more often the field of orthodontics. Additionally, the orthodontic assistant is one of the most demanding jobs in the market with a competitive salary.
The educational requisites are quite simple. Usually, the orthodontist assistant program lasts from one to two years, where the students are trained to work individually with the Orthodontist and the patient. Today’s article will highlight the responsibilities of an orthodontist assistant. Furthermore, we will discuss the educational requirements for becoming an orthodontist assistant.
Who is an orthodontist assistant?
Orthodontist dentists are trained dental aids that help Orthodontist treat patients by using different dental appliances and preventive healthcare tools. Orthodontist dental assistants undergo formal education and obtain a degree or certificate. (1)
Furthermore, they have to pass the state licensing exam to become eligible to work with dentists alongside in a community or private dental office.
What are the responsibilities of an orthodontist assistant?
Some of the critical roles and responsibilities of an orthodontist assistant include –
- Have excellent communication and listening skills
- To maintain accurate records of the patients along with their oral health histories and treatment
- To ensure that all the orthodontic instruments and required equipment are adequately sterilized before use. (2)
- Ensure that the patient’s mouth is open and dry during the orthodontic procedures by using high vacuum suction.
- Should be able to take intraoral X-rays of patient’s mouths such as periapical x-ray, bitewing, and occlusal radiographs.
- Aid the OrthodontistOrthodontist in taking before and after photographs of patients’ teeth to aid the OrthodontistOrthodontist in developing a treatment plan before starting the procedure. Moreover, to help document the patient’s progress.
- Be able to record proper dental molds of patient teeth used for the fabrication of customized mouthguards and retainers.
- Must know to remove and replace wires, coil springs, donuts, and elastic bands.
- To educate patients on proper oral hygiene practices and braces aftercare.
What are the educational requirements for the orthodontist assistant?
Anyone with a high school diploma can be eligible for a formal education training program to become an orthodontist assistant. Such programs are known as dental assisting programs, outlined over two years to provide a certification of completion. Graduates of such a program also obtain a degree of associate in applied sciences. (3)
Typically, a dental assisting program entails the following –
- The core significant coursework usually is science-based and includes subjects like human anatomy, dental radiography, dental assisting techniques, pharmacology in dentistry, oral and dental anatomy and development.
- Moreover, the students also have to learn about dental assisting techniques, patient management, and the fulfillment of general education courses.
Upon completion of the dental assisting program, graduates should be prepared to take state and national board exams for licensure to become a registered and board-certified dental assistant/ orthodontist assistant.
Additionally, graduates from a dental assisting program can also continue to improve their clinical assisting skills by working on-the-job training or by completing credentials such as the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) designation. (4)
Most orthodontist assistants continue their education by studying for an expanded functions orthodontic assistant certificate program. The certification requirements for this program may vary from state to state. Therefore, it is essential to keep a check on changing needs.
In a nutshell, the minimum educational requirements of a dental assistant include –
- A high school diplomas
- A graduate with an associate’s degree in Dental Assisting.
- Certification as an Orthodontic Assistant
- State licensure
- Any shadowing experience as a Dental Assistant.
- Good knowledge of various orthodontic procedures and practices.
- Excellent manual dexterity and organizational skills.
What is the salary of an orthodontist assistant?
Currently, the median wage of an orthodontist assistant is estimated to be $38,660 per year. However, the range may vary according to the type of dental practice and the dental office’s location. It was seen that the highest-paying positions for orthodontist assistant were with nursing care facilities, which offers a mean annual salary of $44,730.
Therefore, on average, an orthodontics assistant can make between $26,588 and $50,317 per year.
Take away message
Orthodontist assistant is a dental auxiliary which aids an orthodontist in carrying out treatment procedures focused on aligning the teeth of the patient. While doing so, the assistant must be well versed with the instruments and equipment used during the process, a technique to take different x-rays and photographs. Moreover, the orthodontist assistant must have excellent communication skills to deal with patients every day.
To become an orthodontist assistant, it is mandatory to undergo a two-year degree program where they are educated about various health sciences, patient management, and general education courses. After graduation, the orthodontist assistant must pass the state or national licensing exam to practice at a private or community dental office.