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Becoming an orthodontist is a long but fulfilling journey. The traditional path begins as an undergraduate, in which you will pursue your Bachelor's degree while taking the necessary dental school prerequisite courses. These typically include Biology, General and Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physics courses. In addition, you will take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT), spend time shadowing dental providers, obtain letters of recommendation, and complete your dental school applications using the Associated American Dental School Application Service (AADSAS).

Next, you will spend 4 years in dental school, during which you will complete didactic coursework and provide dental treatment to patients under the supervision of your dental school faculty. During dental school, you may wish to seek out orthodontic experiences through clubs, research, and shadowing. You will also obtain your dental licensure during this time. You will graduate from dental school with a DDS or DMD degree.

Finally, you will apply to Orthodontic Residency Programs, which last from 2-3 years, to receive specialized training in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. Some orthodontic residency programs require applicants to take the GRE or Advanced Dental Admission Test (ADAT) for admission. Orthodontic residency programs involve a combination of didactics and clinical experience. Depending on the residency program, you may also undertake a research project and thesis defense, and obtain your Master of Science in Dentistry (MSD) degree. At the conclusion of orthodontics residency, you may wish to become board-certified by the American Board of Orthodontists.

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