The requirements to become an orthodontist include graduating from a specialty program in orthodontics, completing a residency and passing an examination with the American Board of Orthodontics, according to the requirements listed on the official American Board of Orthodontics website. Only degrees from accredited schools fulfill the requirements to become an orthodontist.
Accreditation is granted by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. Prospective orthodontists may study at accredited universities in Canada and the United States. Students may pursue masters or doctorate degrees. An MS degree allows graduates to become orthodontists. A PhD allows graduates to pursue an academic career in the field. To register for a specialty degree program in orthodontics, students must first complete Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree or a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree, pass the National Board Examination for dentists and pass the Graduate Record Examination, according to the University of California San Francisco Orthodontics program overview.
The American Board of Orthodontics requires prospective orthodontists to submit six patient cases before writing the certification exam. To gain this experience, they must complete a residency or work in an orthodontic practice.
Finally, prospective orthodontists must write the Initial Certification Examination with the American Board of Orthodontics. The exam consists of an oral section based on three of the required six patient cases, a case report examination and another oral examination based on the case report.