The current state of predoctoral orthodontic education in the United States

Florence Kwo, Maria Orellana
Journal of Dental Education 2011, 75 (4): 518-26
The objective of this study was to assess the current state of predoctoral orthodontic education in the United States. We hypothesized that there are significant differences in the teaching methods, course content, and assessment methods in current predoctoral orthodontic curricula in U.S. dental schools. To test this hypothesis, predoctoral orthodontic directors at fifty-five dental schools were invited to complete an anonymous online survey during the months of June and July 2010. Twenty-nine program directors (53 percent) completed the survey. Our data showed that the mean number of full-time and part-time equivalent faculty members teaching predoctoral orthodontics is 2.12 and 2.5, respectively. Students are presented with orthodontic material as early as the first year in some dental schools; however, the majority of schools present the most orthodontic material in the third year. The number of curriculum hours devoted to teaching orthodontics during the predoctoral years varies greatly between schools, and many programs teach students a variety of orthodontic techniques. Less than half (48.15 percent) of the responding programs require students to treat orthodontic patients. The majority of the responding programs require students to observe residents (65.38 percent), while those requiring students to assist in graduate orthodontics clinic are in the minority (34.62 percent). Two-thirds of the responding programs consider the current time allotted for predoctoral orthodontic clinical education at their institutions to be adequate. Our results suggest that there are, indeed, large variations in teaching methods, curriculum content, and methods of assessment in predoctoral orthodontic programs.

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