How to Pick a Top Orthodontist
When you or your children need tooth straightening or bite alignment, it’s important to select a top orthodontist. Treatment is a lengthy process. You’ll be investing a great deal of time (and probably some serious money) in achieving a more attractive, healthier smile. Picking a dentist who doesn’t have the proper qualifications and experience to provide orthodontic care can lead to:
- Disappointing results even when you follow oral care instructions
- Treatment that takes much longer than it should
- The need for follow-up procedures to correct problems caused by improperly installed braces or other orthodontic appliances
- Unnecessary pain and discomfort
- Face and jaw asymmetry (especially for children who are still growing)
- Permanent damage to your teeth and jaw (including loss of teeth)
Top Orthodontists Are Trained Specialists
Orthodontists have undergone several additional years of professional training in an educational and clinical setting. This makes orthodontists more likely to provide an optimal experience for patients. They are educated in how to effectively and safely move teeth and how to guide facial development in children. The slight difference in price to have a top orthodontist instead of a general dentist fix your teeth is well worth it when you consider the long term results you want to achieve.
Orthodontists may post letters such as M.D.S. (Master of Dental Science) after their name and specialty to indicate the degree they received after completing orthodontic training. They may also advertise that they are AAO (American Association of Orthodontists) members. This is a professional organization and membership does not necessarily indicate a higher than average level of training in orthodontics. You should interview your prospective orthodontist to find out how long they have been in practice, what procedures they offer and if they have any additional qualifications that set them apart.
Top Orthodontists Provide Options
Some orthodontists focus their practice on one or two common procedures. If you want a broader range of choices and the best treatment, look for an orthodontist who is comfortable using a variety of appliances and materials. For example, a top orthodontist might offer metal braces, ceramic braces, and Invisalign so you have more choices. Some also offer lingual braces (invisible braces).
Not every device will be right for you, but your orthodontist should be able to explain the pros and cons so you can participate in the decision making process. A top orthodontist should also have access to modern equipment such as computer technology to assist in evaluation and treatment planning. Shiny new equipment doesn’t guarantee the best care, but it does mean the orthodontist has enough satisfied patients to invest in modern technology.
Will you or your child require jaw surgery as part of the orthodontic treatment? Look for an orthodontist with a track record of working with oral and maxillofacial surgeons or plastic surgeons who specialize in orthognathic surgery. Your treatment team will need to collaborate closely to ensure your procedure is successful.
Finally, it’s important to select an orthodontist who is experienced with treating patients in your age range. A specialist who is very good at achieving results for pediatric patients isn’t always the best choice for providing adult braces. That’s because the specific types of movement possible in a fully developed jaw are much more limited. This means the tools and treatment approach are also different. Ask a prospective orthodontist about the average age of the patients he treats and the different methods used to move teeth once the bones are no longer growing.