An orthodontist must first become a dentist, going to dental school to learn how to do everything a dentist does. To become an orthodontist, you must go to an extra residency program to learn how to move teeth and jaws, which is called dente-facial orthopedics. It typically takes 10 years to become an orthodontist and is a very challenging academic and laboratory program. In short, orthodontists are dentist who specialize n the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.