How to Choose an Orthodontist

Orthodontics should be a fun journey for everyone involved!   While there are lots of options for treatment out there, this process is an investment both in time and money.   You only want to do it once, and you want to be sure you are getting the best team for the job!   Asking the following 10 questions are a really quick way to ensure you are getting a well-qualified team to give you or your child the best smile possible :)

1.  Are you a licensed orthodontist?

The answer should be YES!  Make sure an licensed orthodontist moves your teeth!  Orthodontists first attended dental school for 4 years and then sought 2-3 years of additional training to specialize in tooth movement.  We are the experts in creating smiles with braces or clear aligners.   It's what we do.  All day.  Every day. 

A quick way to know if you are seeing a orthodontic specialist is to look for membership in the American Assocation of Orthodontists (AAO).  The AAO ONLY permits certified, licensed orthodontists to become members. 

While many family dentists may advertise that they provide orthodontic services, they are NOT licensed orthodontists and did not attend an accredited residency program to do so.    

2.  Do you offer customized, flexible financing options and payment plans with no-interest?

Everyone should have a chance to smile!  Your team should be flexible and be able to help you get a great smile within your budget.

3.  Is the initial visit complimentary?

It should be!   A complimentary meeting allows you to have total freedom to evaluate the doctor and the team without any unnecessary pressure or implied obligation!

4.  How often will I have to miss school or work during the process?

With today's technology, visits are often not a frequent as they may have been in the past.   The "every 4 weeks" is not the normal, and typically appointment intervals now go between 6-12 weeks!   When a visit to the orthodontist is needed, hours should be convenient for your schedule to minimize any out of school time or time away from work.

5.  How many cases like mine have you treated before?

A well-experienced orthodontist and their team will have likely seen your smile concerns before.  They should be able to provide before/after examples of similar cases to yours so you can have an idea of what to expect.

6.  Are you actively involved with any teaching, lecturing, or current research projects?

Teams that stay up-to-date with continuing education, or better yet, are the ones that PROVIDE the education to other doctors are usually abreast of the latest innovations and techniques in orthodontics.

7.  How do you determine what treatment is beneficial for my case?

The doctor should provide a thorough, customized plan using images, outcome simulations, and/or models of the teeth, not just looking in the mouth, to help you understand what is possible.  Additionally, treatment options should be a conversation, not a rushed dictation, in order to tailor the entire experience to your goals and make you feel comfortable with what is going to happen.  You deserve the extra attention this process affords to make your family's smile journey totally customized!

8.  What do you do in your office to make me feel special?

There is a unique human being attached to those 28 teeth!   You should never feel like you are in a “factory” or just a “number” at anyone’s office.

9.  Do you offer options besides just metal braces for treatment?

There are a number of options to move the teeth available now that are esthetic and discreet...including clear aligners, braces behind the teeth, and ceramic braces.   Most offices will still offer metal braces, too, but you should have a host of other options to choose from.

10.  Would you do the same recommended treatment on your own family member if they had the same issues?

If this is not a resounding and un-hesitating YES, then you should definitely seek a second opinion!

Live. Laugh. Smile.

Ryan Tamburrino, DMD / Shalin Shah, DMD, MS