How to Choose an Orthodontist

Story by David Buice

Treatment by an orthodontist is not just for children and teens. While the majority of those seeking the services of an orthodontist is still young people, close to 30% of all orthodontics patients are adults. Whatever your age, an orthodontist can help you in many ways. An orthodontics specialist can protect your bite, maximize your teeth’s effectiveness in performing their functions, and create a well-aligned smile, a huge confidence booster. Today’s treatments involve repositioning of the teeth and underlying roots, providing better support for the crown of the tooth. Finally, well-aligned teeth make oral hygiene easier to maintain.

Finding a qualified orthodontist used to be a fairly easy thing to do.

Your general dentist, who was probably the one who recommended realignment, simply gave you a referral. Today, however, with a greater variety of straightening procedures and with an increasing number of non-specialists offering orthodontic treatments, the choice can be more difficult.

In your search for the right orthodontist, your general dentist’s recommendation is still valuable. General dentists often work with orthodontists in coordinating patient care, and in their own practice, often see the results of realignment procedures and can pass their recommendations on to you. Ask them if their children had braces, and if so, which orthodontist they used.

In addition to your general dentist, ask friends and colleagues at work for their recommendations.

Before setting an appointment, go to their website and check to make sure the orthodontist is a member of the American Association of Orthodontists, an organization that maintains very strict ethical and training standards.  Members of this organization have not only graduated from dental school but have gone through an additional residency program lasting two to three years in which they have received specialized training in orthodontics. In contrast, a general dentist offering orthodontics procedures may have only attended a few training seminars.

While you’re online, you might also check out reviews left by their previous patients.

Another consideration is the technology available in the orthodontist’s office. The more progressive and up to date an office is, the more likely that the orthodontist is taking the time and money to upgrade and keep his or her practice at the forefront of modern orthodontics. It’s also important to make sure they are using the latest technology in braces. The days of the old “railroad braces” are gone, and newer, smaller metal or ceramic braces mean better treatment outcomes and less time in the orthodontist’s office.

Finally, and very importantly, is the charge for services. Most orthodontists will offer a comprehensive fee covering all their treatment services as well as a monthly payment plan that fits your budget. But before signing any paperwork, make sure there are no hidden fees at the end of treatment for things like retainers or X-rays.

In the end, the investment in orthodontic treatment will be well worth it, as repeated studies have shown the benefits in both self-esteem and job opportunities that come with a great smile.