How To Choose An Orthodontist: 5 Things You Should Know
Written by Dr. Nupur Shrirao, BDS, MDS, FAAD | Medically Reviewed by Dr. Shaista Salam, BDS; Dr. Zein El Hammouz, DDS, MFD/RCSI
|Table of Contents|
|5. Questions To Ask At An Orthodontist Consultation|
They say your smile is the window to your soul! However, if you have crowded, crooked, or spaced-out teeth, it is natural to feel conscious when you smile. An orthodontist is a doctor specializing in teeth straightening treatments and can beautify your smile. But with so many of them offering their services, the question remains, “ how to choose an orthodontist?
What Makes A Good Orthodontist?
Finding a good orthodontist can be a bit tricky. Below are some key things you should keep in mind while searching for the right orthodontist.
Qualifications & Reputation
Orthodontists receive 2-3 years of training after they finish dental school and an additional few years to become specialists in their chosen treatment modality. Undoubtedly, advanced training and a high level of education make a good orthodontist. Along with this, online patient reviews or testimonials can also give a clear picture of the kind of work they do. Make sure to look at before and after photos of previous patients to understand whether your chosen orthodontist can treat a wide variety of cases.
Experience & Continuous Learning
The best orthodontist is one who, in addition to the proper education and training, has enough clinical experience, translating into outstanding clinical skills. This is a critical factor, especially if you are considering aligners, as they work differently than regular braces. The longer the orthodontist has been practicing and continuously learning, the better you can expect their service to be (1).
A good orthodontist will never scare patients or make them feel rushed or pressured to take up the treatment. Communicating clearly with empathy and care results in a much more compliant and educated patient, ultimately leading to better treatment outcomes (2). In addition, patients understand their treatment protocols better and are, thus, happier with their treatment progress.
Good Customer Service & Staff
Good customer service, like easy scheduling and rescheduling of appointments, reminders for follow-ups, and quick contact options in emergencies, are equally important when choosing an orthodontist.
Look for an orthodontist with friendly, helpful, and compassionate staff who are willing to care for you like a person rather than just a set of teeth!
Additional Things To Consider Before Choosing An Orthodontist
Here are some additional things you should consider when contemplating how to choose an orthodontist:
1. Location & Convenience
The distance and connectivity of your orthodontic clinic play a significant role in its selection. Choosing an orthodontist whose clinic is situated nearby and can be easily commuted to is wise. Find out the clinic’s working hours, as many orthodontists offer special evening or weekend appointments. This makes it easier for patients to commute from work and other commitments (3).
2. Financial Plans & Payment
Good orthodontic treatment can get heavy on the pocket. But that shouldn't stop you from getting a beautiful smile! Choose an orthodontist who considers insurance coverage or offers flexible financing and payment plans. Many clinics also offer additional deals and discounts when you pre-purchase treatment packages online. So, be sure to look out for that!
3. Available Orthodontic Treatments
Orthodontics has come a long way, and there’s a wide variety of treatment options to choose from, like metal braces, transparent braces and clear aligners. To save time, it is better to determine beforehand whether your orthodontist offers the treatment option you are interested in.
4. Consultation Fees
It may be wise to check if your orthodontist offers free or paid consultations. Some orthodontists charge exorbitant consultation fees, whereas others may offer consultations at a lower charge. Be sure to take this into account before deciding which orthodontist to finally choose.
Which Orthodontists To Avoid?
Now that you know how to choose an orthodontist for yourself, let’s talk about some types of orthodontists you should be wary of:
Hesitant About Sharing Clear Treatment Plans
Most orthodontists are trained in basic orthodontic care, but some may not have the expertise to treat complex cases using your preferred treatment modality. Hence, they may be hesitant to clearly share their treatment plans with you (4).
They Don’t Keep You Updated
Do you feel clueless when interacting with your orthodontist? It may be because they are unable to communicate clearly or answer questions about your treatment confidently. In such a case, it is better to change your orthodontist.
They Are Not Part of a Professional Orthodontic Association
Only dentists who complete an accredited orthodontic residency program after dental school are accepted for membership into their respective country’s orthodontic association (5). Whether you are considering clear aligners or traditional braces, opt for a certified orthodontist to ensure your best smile!
Orthodontist First Consultation: What To Expect?
Once you learn how to choose an orthodontist, the next question is, what happens when you visit them for the first time? Let’s break it down!
1. Getting to Know You & Your Concerns
- Chief Complaint
The first thing your orthodontist will ask you is your chief complaint. This is a crucial question for both you and your doctor. Your entire treatment plan will be based on your chief complaint and the problem you want to treat.
- Complete Medical & Dental History
Then, he will proceed to take a complete medical history to evaluate your overall health and decide whether you are fit to receive orthodontic treatment. If needed, he may require a clearance certificate from your treating physician if you have a medical condition, complication, or syndrome. He will also inquire about your dental history, dietary habits, oral habits, and at-home oral hygiene practices (6).
- Clinical Examination & Records
Your check-up will include a complete intra-oral and extra-oral examination. In the intra-oral exam, your orthodontist will examine the oral soft tissues, such as the gums, cheeks, throat, tonsils, etc., and hard tissues, such as the teeth. In the extra-oral exam, your facial profile, facial symmetry, and smile lines will be evaluated.
After the examination, your intra-oral and extra-oral photographs will be clicked for record keeping. Full mouth X-rays called ‘OPGs’ and ‘Lateral Cephalograms’ may be taken. These will evaluate the teeth roots, the condition of the underlying bone and any missing, impacted, or extra teeth present in your mouth (7).
2. Developing the Treatment Plan
- Diagnosis of your orthodontic problems
Using the data gathered from your clinical examination, your orthodontist will give you a diagnosis and explain your orthodontic condition.
- Treatment options to correct the problem
With your final diagnosis in hand, your orthodontist will tell you about the different treatment options they offer and suggest which one is best suited for your case (8).
- Explaining other treatments you may need
Depending upon the condition of your oral health, you may need additional treatments. For example, your gums may be inflamed due to calculus buildup. And you may require professional cleaning or scaling (9). If there is insufficient space in your tooth arches, you may require tooth extractions or IPR to create space for tooth movements.
- An estimate of treatment cost & length
Your orthodontist will share the approximate cost of the entire treatment and the estimated treatment time.
3. Question & Answer Phase
Your first appointment will typically end with many questions from your side. A good orthodontist will patiently answer all your questions about the treatment plan (10).
Questions To Ask At An Orthodontist Consultation
Oftentimes, the first orthodontic consultation can be an overwhelming experience for you. You may simply blank out in the question-and-answer phase – not knowing what to ask! A great way to avoid this is to prepare a list of questions ahead of time, such as:
- How often will I have appointments?
- How long do appointments take?
- Do you offer flexible financial plans?
- What does the treatment cost cover? Does it include follow-ups?
- When will my treatment be over?
These questions will be answered by your orthodontist, depending on your treatment plan and goals.
Ultimately, finding a good orthodontist may take a bit of work. But rest assured, because Eon Aligner can easily help you find a good orthodontist in your locality to give you your perfect smile. All you have to do is fill in this form and our team will get back to you!
Was this article helpful?
1. What qualities make a good orthodontist?
A good orthodontist is a subject expert with a good amount of clinical experience and training. He or she communicates clearly, and is empathetic and caring toward his patients.
2. What are the responsibilities of an orthodontist?
Responsibilities of an orthodontist include:
- Listening to the patient’s chief complaint
- Examining the teeth and jaws for alignment
- Taking good quality molds of the teeth
- Diagnosing teeth and jaw alignment issues using photos and X-rays (OPG and Lateral Cephalogram)
- Designing a safe and effective treatment plan that addresses the patient's chief complaint and achieves good occlusion functionally and esthetically.
- Performing pre-treatment procedures, such as extraction, interproximal reduction, and attachments placement
- Executing the treatment with customized appliances
- Maintaining good patient communication and records.
3. How does the orthodontist determine if you need aligners?
Aligners are a good option for patients who want an esthetic and conservative treatment option with minimum follow-up visits. To determine if you need aligners, your orthodontist will study your teeth alignment, bite patterns, and jaw bone symmetry, as well as aesthetic concerns and oral hygiene status. To know what aligners can fix, click here.
4. How long does your first orthodontist appointment take?
The first orthodontist appointment is usually a consultation scheduled for 20-30 minutes. Your orthodontist will examine your teeth and gum status, as well as your facial profile and symmetry. Photos and X-rays may also be taken to determine if you are a good candidate for orthodontic treatment.
5. What happens after your first orthodontist appointment?
At the first orthodontist appointment, the orthodontist examines your teeth and gives you a diagnosis of your orthodontic problems. After discussing the cost and time estimate, your treatment appointment will be scheduled.
1. d’Apuzzo, Fabrizia, et al. “Clear Aligner Treatment: Different Perspectives between Orthodontists and General Dentists.” Progress in Orthodontics, vol. 20, no. 1, 11 Mar. 2019, 10.1186/s40510-019-0263-3. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.
2. Burkert, Vesela, et al. “Communication Skills Teaching Methods in Dental Education – a Review.” Folia Medica, vol. 63, no. 1, 28 Feb. 2021, pp. 30–34, 10.3897/folmed.63.e52343. Accessed 21 June 2021.
3.Putrino, Alessandra, et al. “Clear Aligners: Between Evolution and Efficiency—a Scoping Review.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 18, no. 6, 11 Mar. 2021, p. 2870, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33799682/, 10.3390/ijerph18062870.
4. Akyalcin, Sercan. “Specialist Training Influences the Ability to Recognise Orthodontic Case Complexity.” Journal of Orthodontics, vol. 46, no. 1_suppl, 10 Apr. 2019, pp. 35–38, 10.1177/1465312519842883. Accessed 4 May 2021
5. emirate-abudhabi.yalwa.ae. (n.d.). Emirates Society Of Orthodontists - Alsalam Street, Abu Dhabi. [online] Available at: https://emirate-abudhabi.yalwa.ae/ID_125688822/Emirates-Society-Of-Orth… [Accessed 6 Oct. 2022].
6. Yilmaz, Hanife Nuray, et al. “Assessment of the Diagnostic Skills of General Dentists in Different Types of Orthodontic Malocclusions.” Turkish Journal of Orthodontics, vol. 34, no. 3, 20 Sept. 2021, pp. 189–198, 10.5152/turkjorthod.2021.20087. Accessed 6 Jan. 2022.
7.Hwang, Sel-Ae, et al. “Benefits of Lateral Cephalogram during Landmark Identification on Posteroanterior Cephalograms.” The Korean Journal of Orthodontics, vol. 49, no. 1, 2019, p. 32, 10.4041/kjod.2019.49.1.32. Accessed 2 Feb. 2021
8. Feizi, Ariana, et al. “What Every Dentist Needs to Know about Clear Aligners.” General Dentistry, vol. 68, no. 4, 1 July 2020, pp. 23–26, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32597773/. Accessed 13 Oct. 2022.
9. Martin, Conchita, et al. “Effect of Orthodontic Therapy in Periodontitis and Non‐Periodontitis Patients: A Systematic Review with Meta‐Analysis.” Journal of Clinical Periodontology, vol. 49 Suppl, no. 24, 22 Nov. 2022, 10.1111/jcpe.13487. Accessed 15 Dec. 2021.
10. Jermyn, Owen, et al. “Cost-Effectiveness of Orthodontics: A Systematic Review.” European Journal of Orthodontics, vol. 44, no. 5, 19 Sept. 2022, pp. 566–577, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35552701/, 10.1093/ejo/cjac019. Accessed 13 Oct. 2022.