Orthodontic Tech Certifications and Certificate Programs
People who wish to become orthodontic techs or orthodontic assistants usually study to become dental assistants and transfer their skills to orthodontics. There are, however, a few certificate programs that provide training in orthodontic assisting. Certification is available from the Dental Assisting National Board.
Certificate in Orthodontic Assistant
Only a few schools offer a certificate in orthodontic assistant separate from dental assistant training. In specialized orthodontic assistant certificate programs, students concentrate on tooth and jaw alignment and on bite problems, focusing on vocabulary terms related to dentistry and orthodontia and uses of orthodontic braces, brackets, dental cements and wires. Students gain skills in patient interaction, data management and billing. A certificate program may be completed in less than a year, or may take up to a year and a half.
Students need a dental assistant certificate or degree to enroll in an orthodontic assistant certificate program. Other prerequisites may include current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certificate and previous courses in composition and psychology.
Students practice treatment techniques on models called typodonts before working with patients in a clinical practicum. Orthodontic tech certificate program lectures cover topics such as:
- Oral anatomy
- Oral pathology
- Dental devices
- Medical software
- Office administration
- Clinical procedures
Students need to pass the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) Certified Orthodontic Assistant examination to become a certified orthodontic assistant. The DANB exam consists of 310 multiple choice questions covering orthodontic assisting and infection control. Both are completed in the same 4-hour session.
Continuing Education Information
Master's degrees in orthodontia are available for those who want to become licensed orthodontists. However, students have to earn a D.D.S. degree before they may enroll in one of these programs.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected 21% job growth for dentists, a category which includes orthodontists, over the years 2010-2020, driven by overall U.S. population growth, the expanding need for dental treatment among aging baby boomers and retirements in the industry. Orthodontists will need orthodontic techs and orthodontic assistants, concurrently creating growth in those positions. According to Payscale.com, as of 2013, orthodontic assistants earned median wages of $33,591.
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