Anyone who ever had braces as a child knows that orthodontics is the treatment of dental irregularities. While an orthodontist is the medical doctor who prescribes treatment, patients more often than not spend much of their time with an orthodontic treatment coordinator. This professional serves as the patient’s personal concierge, walking them through each step of the treatment process.
Orthodontic treatment coordinators schedule all patient appointments, beginning with the initial consultation with the orthodontist through the final step of the respective treatment plan. During the initial examination, they present information regarding available treatment options, as well as the insurance coverage and credit options that may be offered. They routinely follow-up with patients throughout the course of treatment, answering any ad hoc questions they may have and ensuring that payments are made in a timely manner. Orthodontic treatment coordinators may also monitor inventory supplies, ordering new ones as needed. In addition, they consult with doctors as necessary when coordinating patient care. Lastly, they must notate everything, including patients’ progress, any referrals that have been received and the demographics of the patient population.
It is not necessary to obtain a four year college degree in order to become an orthodontic treatment coordinator. The only formal education required is a high school diploma or its equivalent. Most of the skills required for success in the role can be acquired on the job. Some employers, however, give preference to job seekers who possess prior relevant experience. In addition to previous employment as an orthodontic treatment coordinator, employers often give strong consideration to applicants with a dental equipment sales background, as success in that type of role requires a similar and transferable skill set.
Success as an orthodontic treatment coordinator hinges primarily on providing exemplary customer service. These individuals must be able to clearly explain orthodontic treatment plans and expertly sell them to patients. Organization is very important, as it is the responsibility of this professional to manage all financial arrangements as well as coordinate the treatment timeline. Orthodontic treatment coordinators must also have the ability to master rather complex technical knowledge, such as insurance regulations and specifics regarding orthodontic treatment options.
In 2012, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that dental assistants, a group that includes orthodontic treatment coordinators, earned an average yearly salary of $34,500. This wage is nearly $10,000 higher than the median income of all other healthcare support occupations. Pay can vary widely based upon geographic locations and level of professional experience. The lowest earners, for example, made less than $23,550, while those on the other end of the spectrum were paid more than $47,580 annually.
2016 Salary Information for Dental Assistants
Dental assistants earned a median annual salary of $36,940 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, dental assistants earned a 25th percentile salary of $30,410, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $45,170, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 332,000 people were employed in the U.S. as dental assistants.