Orthodontic dentists, more commonly known as orthodontists, are dental care specialists who treat misaligned teeth and oral cavity abnormalities. They design and insert dental fixtures like braces and retainers to realign patients’ teeth and jaws. According to a salary report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 5,500 orthodontists working in the United States in May 2008. The earnings of orthodontists are among the highest of any occupation in the country.
According to a May 2008 report by the BLS, the average annual salary for orthodontists in the United States was £126,704. That works out to an average hourly wage of £60.90. A November 2009 salary survey by the private company Salary.com places the median expected salary for orthodontists at £79,013. According to the report, the middle 50 per cent of the occupation bring home between £64,912 and £95,805.
In many states, dentists who want to practice in orthodontics need additional schooling in order to obtain licensure. As such, it is unsurprising that orthodontists earn higher salaries that general dentists. According to the BLS, the average annual salary for general dentists was £100,275. That figure equals £48.20 hourly. The three dental specialist occupations classified by the BLS are orthodontist, oral and maxillofacial surgeon and prosthodontist. Out of all three specialities, orthodontics is the most lucrative.
The earnings of an orthodontist tend to increase along with work experience. According to an April 2010 salary report by Payscale.com, the median expected salary of an orthodontist with less than one year of work experience falls between £52,000 and £99,193. Orthodontists with between one and four years of work experience have a median expected salary range of £63,434 to £100,219. That salary range increases to between £63,434 and £113,736 for orthodontists with between five and nine years of work experience. Orthodontists with between 10 and 19 years of experience make between 104,233 and £130,000. Those with more than 20 years of work experience can expect to earn between £91,892 and £153,290.
Salaried dental professionals typically enjoy benefits provided by their employers. This includes health insurance, dental insurance, malpractice insurance and retirement benefits, according to the BLS. Self-employed dentists and orthodontists need to arrange for and fund their own benefits. This can cut into earnings substantially. Some salaried dentists may receive bonuses based on number of hours worked or the amount of new clients they bring into the practice. According to Payscale.com, the median expected annual bonus range for orthodontists is £1,202 to £11,375.
Although dentists who are self-employed must provide their own benefits, in general, their incomes are higher than salaried dentists, according to the BLS. This includes both dentists who are the sole owner of a practice, or run the office with other dentists. The earnings of self-employed dentists are dependent on a number of factors like professional reputation and number of hours worked. Geographic location and the affluence of their clientele base can also impact earnings.