7 Questions You Should Ask before choosing an orthodontist

Whether you're considering treatment for yourself or for your child, answering these questions can help take the guess work out of selecting an orthodontist that you'll be happy with.

1. Are you "Wowed" by Their Results?

If you want to find a great orthodontist, find one who creates great smiles. Be sure you're satisfied with the quality of an orthodontist's work before you make your decision. Compare before and after photos of their patients. Ask to see examples of how they treated cases similar to yours. If you're not impressed with the results they achieve, continue your search

2. Are they Serious about Your Comfort?

Thanks to recent technological advancements, orthodontic treatments need not be painful anymore. Innovations like self-ligating brackets and orthodontic aligners eliminate the need for wire tightening, the #1 source of treatment-related discomfort. Some orthodontists are highly committed to patient comfort, avoiding appliances and procedures that may cause pain - like bands, headgear, expanders, and extractions. If this is important to you, be sure to look for an orthodontist who uses these advanced technologies and takes pain management seriously.

3. Are they Passionate about What They Do?

Do they seem committed to excellence? Do they seem genuinely excited about helping their patients?
Avoid "braces factories" where everyone seems rushed, and where the doctors and staff seem to just go through the motions. Look for a practice that's eager to show you examples of their work, and to tell you how their patients' lives have changed because of their new smiles.

4. Are they considered Experts in the Field of Orthodontics?

An orthodontist's professional reputation can be a strong indicator of his or her expertise, but it's not always easy to determine. Look for an orthodontist who conducts continuing education courses for other dental professionals… courses approved by their state board of dentistry. Also, note that progressive orthodontists are often selected to teach at prominent universities and lecture at national conferences, a good indication that they are employing the latest methods and technologies in their practices.

5. Does the Environment seem Right for You?

If you find the right orthodontist, undergoing orthodontic treatment can actually be a pleasant experience. Young patients may be particularly anxious about getting braces, so it's important to find a practice with which your child feels comfortable. Ask to visit the practice. Do you feel welcomed when you walk into the office? Do they take time to patiently answer your questions? Is the staff friendly? Do they treat you as though you're part of the family? By making a thoughtful selection now, you'll avoid stress later.

6. Do they Pay More Attention to their Patients, or their Clock?

Spiraling costs, insurance company guidelines, and other considerations have pressured many healthcare providers - including some orthodontists - to spend less time with their patients. A few practices have resisted this trend by committing to excellence, and refusing to compromise quality of care. Look for an orthodontist who takes the time, and makes the effort, to answer all of your questions without making you feel rushed. Avoid offices where the staff and patients seem stressed or annoyed.

7. Is the Doctor an Orthodontic Specialist?

Orthodontists receive an additional 2-3 years of education beyond dental school to learn their specialty. Orthodontists practice orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics exclusively. All orthodontists are dentists, but only 6% of dentists are orthodontists. Look for the seal of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). Only orthodontic specialists can belong to the AAO.