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How to Choose an Orthodontist


Orthodontic treatment is more affordable than ever, and the technology has advanced significantly in the last decade, providing a vast array of options and possibilities for straightening teeth and aligning the jaw. It's important that you choose a qualified, experienced orthodontist who has the knowledge, skills, and facility that will best meet your orthodontic needs.

What Is an Orthodontist?

There are specialists in dentistry just as there are specialists in medicine. Only about 6 percent of dentists are orthodontists. Orthodontists dedicate their professional lives to diagnosing, preventing, and correcting misaligned teeth and jaws. After four years of dental school, an orthodontist must complete a minimum of two years of study in a full-time university-based orthodontic residency program accredited by the American Dental Association. Only those who've completed this extra training may be legitimately called " orthodontists." About 95 percent of the approximately 15,000 American orthodontists belong to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), an advocacy group for orthodontists.

In their residency training, orthodontists continue to expand the skills they need to manage the movement of teeth (orthodontics) and guide facial development (dentofacial orthopedics). Their studies include oral disease, biomedical science, biomechanics, and the many orthodontic techniques and treatment options now available.

Suggestions for Finding the Best Orthodontists

The first step in locating a qualified orthodontist is to determine whether you might need an orthodontist who specializes in pediatric (children's) orthodontics or adult orthodontics - such specialization is not required, but it may have an effect on how much experience an orthodontist has with the type of treatment you or your child might need. You can use DocShop to locate a pediatric or general orthodontist near your home.

Arrange a consultation and don't be reluctant to ask questions:

  • How long has the orthodontist been practicing?
  • How many patients has he/she treated as an orthodontist?
  • Is he/she a member of the AAO? If not, why?
  • What services are provided? Clear braces? Pediatric orthodontics?
  • Does the orthodontist have any affiliations with other dental professionals in the area, for example, general dentists, oral surgeons, endodontists, periodontists? Is he/she affiliated with a local hospital or clinic?
  • How are orthodontic emergencies handled?
  • Are evening and weekend appointments available?
  • What types of financing are available?

The best orthodontists will answer all of your questions fully and patiently.

Orthodontists for Adults

Orthodontics isn't just for kids anymore - one in five orthodontic patients in the United States is an adult. More than a million adults in the United States and Canada are currently receiving orthodontic treatment. Adults are more likely than children to need orthodontic treatment based on dental health concerns; many adults suffer from damaged teeth or a loss of bone and gums supporting their teeth. Being treated by an orthodontist can help prevent many serious problems such as gum disease and the loss of teeth.

Concern about one's appearance, including one's smile, is also a factor in seeking a consultation with an orthodontist. Whether for braces,"Instant Orthodontics" with porcelain veneers, or invisalign® aligners, many adults are contacting an orthodontist to find out how to look their best.

Locate an Orthodontist in Your Area

DocShop includes a directory of orthodontists who provide exceptional care in clinics throughout the United States. Find an orthodontist near your home today.

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