Orthodontist Assistant | What it is, How to Become One, Duties, Training, Salary and More.

Orthodontist Assistant

Becoming an orthodontist assistant could be an excellent career choice for people interested in a healthcare job in the dentistry field

Who is an Orthodontist Assistant?

An orthodontist assistant is a health practitioner who works in dentist offices. Orthodontist assistants assist orthodontists in their job and perform other tasks.

Orthodontist Assistant Job Description

The responsibilities of people in this healthcare sector include tasks like taking instructions from the orthodontist, cleaning and polishing patients’ teeth before installing braces, removing patients’ braces upon completion of orthodontic treatments and handling dental tools.

Duties of an Orthodontist Assistant

Before taking a job as an orthodontist assistant, it is important that you first understand what their duties are.

  1. They are responsible for maintaining accurate records of the oral health, histories and treatment progress of patients.
  2. They also prepare and schedule appointments for patients with the orthodontist.
  3. They are responsible for removing and replacing wires, coil springs, donuts, and elastic bands from the mouth of a patient when necessary.
  4. They educate patients on proper oral hygiene practices and braces aftercare.
  5. They take intraoral X-rays of patients’ mouths and keep the patient’s mouths dry during orthodontic procedures by using a suction hose.
  6. They take photographs of patients’ teeth to help the orthodontist in developing treatment plans and to document progress of the patient.
  7. They also ensure that all orthodontic instruments and equipment are properly sterilized before each use and properly cleaned or disposed of after use.
  8. They take dental molds of patients’ teeth in order to fabricate customized mouthguards and retainers.

Qualities of a Good Orthodontist Assistant

A orthodontic assistant should have good hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. This is to ensure the safety of patients during dental procedures. They should be able to exercise patience and excellent organizational and communication skills.

This will help them have a better relationship with their clients and give room for a mutual understanding between them and the orthodontist.

The ability to work with other people as a team is also very important to becoming an orthodontist assistant. This is because the job requires you working with other staff and interacting with patients.

An orthodontist assistant needs to have good organizational skills. Because they are responsible for keeping patient records, maintaining accurate patient information, scheduling appointments for patients, ensuring dental instruments and materials are in the right place, etc, they will need to possess such skills to put everything in order and avoid mix-ups.

They should also be able to pay attention to details. They should be able to take note of things like whether or not the patient is nervous or in pain, whether all the needed tools are in order and in good shape etc. They should ensure that all necessary tasks are completed and all appointments are scheduled.

Good listening skill is an important quality an orthodontist assistant should possess in order to be able to understand and follow instructions from the orthodontist correctly.

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They should have the ability to multitask. This is very important because they usually have to juggle different tasks such as preparing a patient for a procedure at the same time preparing the instruments needed and attending to other patients.

It is also important for people in this field to have excellent interpersonal skills and compassion towards others, this is because patients can get nervous and jittery, so they should help patients feel calm and do their best to make sure that they feel relaxed and confident throughout their appointment or procedure.

Hard work and resilience is another quality needed to become an orthodontist assistant because the job can be quite tasking and time taking. This quality will help you get through tiring and challenging days which may come often.

Where and How do Orthodontist Assistants Work?

They usually work in  office environments and clinics or hospitals. They can also work in social health centers or run a private practice. Most times they work throughout the week and sometimes they may have to work during weekends as well. Most work full-time while others work part-time.


To become an orthodontist assistant, some employers may require that you must have obtained at least a high school diploma or GED, alongside a training course or courses in orthodontic assistance.

Some of such courses are available in private dental schools, state agencies and community colleges or universities. Most employers however would rather want you to have a dental assisting or dental hygienist degree.

A degree program in dental assisting which usually lasts two years will train you to support the work of dentists both as part of a dental team and in clerical capacity.

The training courses usually include topics such as oral anatomy, radiology, teeth polishing, dental materials, creating dental molds and infection prevention and control as well as other dental procedures.

Most of the programs offer internship opportunities to give you the experience of working in a dental office. You will also have to complete general education courses in mathematics and the humanities.

Other professional courses in orthodontic assisting include orthodontic appliances, appliance fitting and removal, wire selection and installation, cementation and orthodontic instruments. These courses can be completed in under a year.

To become a Certified Orthodontic Assistant you must pass two qualifying exams in orthodontic assisting and infection control. The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) offers certification for both dental assistants and orthodontist assistants (OA).  

The requirements and permissible scope of duties for a dental assistant as well as the certification process vary by state.

How to become an Orthodontist Assistant

The first step to becoming an orthodontist assistant is earning a High School Diploma or GED. Then proceed to complete a training program. This can either be a certificate or a degree program. You are expected to learn courses such as oral anatomy, infection control, dental materials and radiology.

You will also learn lab courses such as how to make dental molds and polish teeth, different varieties of tooth appliances and how to manipulate arch wires. When you have completed these levels of education you can now apply for a job. You can consider getting a certification and advancing in your career as an orthodontist assistant.

Orthodontist Assistant Salary

The average orthodontic assistant salary is $24.38 per hour which is $50,707 per year. The salary range; on an entry-level salary is about $29,000 a year, while the top percentile makes about $88,000.

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Orthodontist assistants, Dental assistants and dental hygienists have similar job descriptions. Dental hygienists work directly with patients and are more involved in cleaning teeth while dental assistants help the hygienists and dentists by handling dental tools, taking x-rays, keeping medical records and scheduling appointments.

You can consider a career as an orthodontist assistant or a dental assistant with the same educational qualifications because dental assistants typically have the same education requirements as orthodontist assistants but dental hygienists have to complete a 3-year associate degree program.

To become a successful orthodontist assistant, you must love, take pride in and be excited to do everything that comes with the job. Without this feeling towards the job, you might find it quite uninteresting and this may result in hating your job


Is being an Orthodontist Assistant a good job?

Yes. The salary is good, the training process is relatively short and working hours are usually not as long as other jobs.

Is it hard to become an Orthodontist Assistant?

The program and courses required are fairly difficult but it is nothing that can’t be handled. However, it is difficult to get admitted to a dental school or orthodontic program. They usually admit perhaps one in every ten applicants.

Do Orthodontist Assistants put braces on for patients?

Yes, orthodontist assistants put on and remove braces for patients as well as perform other duties like tightening brackets, installing wires, etc.

How do you become an Orthodontist?

If you are interested in orthodontics, concentrate on getting the best grades you can, particularly in the sciences.
You can take a premed course in college.

Then you can also go to dental school. After that, you can go ahead to apply to a post-graduate orthodontic program which usually lasts two years and graduate with a degree in orthodontics.

What are the pros and cons of becoming an Orthodontist Assistant?

The pros of becoming an orthodontist assistant include; an increase in demand of dental services which makes orthodontist assistant jobs marketable. The training period is short and the job has good earning potential.

The cons of becoming an orthodontist assistant includes; coming in contact with fluids such as blood, saliva, pus etc. Orthodontic programs are quite difficult to get into and the job is tasking.

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