Finding the right orthodontist is like wandering through a maze full of dead ends. Everything looks the same. Even though scouring the web seems like a fruitless task, taking the time to choose the best orthodontist for you can be well worth the wait.
Not every orthodontist is the same! Some doctors offer different treatments than others do. Before you spend precious time visiting different offices, establish your priorities. Invisalign, office hours, TMJ treatment? Of course, with all the options available, it can be difficult to know exactly what you want. Here are three fundamental questions to answer before you find the one.
1. Who’s the orthodontist for?
First things first, who do you need an orthodontist for? Is it for yourself or a loved one? Many orthodontists specialize in adult, teen, kids’ braces, or all three! Here’s what you can expect from these orthodontic specialists:
Orthodontists for Kids
Children can get braces as early as 7 years old. Orthodontists use a two-phase treatment system to correct jaw development problems for kids. The first set of braces is used for kids with baby teeth to correct any jaw problems. After all the adult teeth grow in, orthodontists can place the second set of braces to make sure the adult teeth are straight.
If you are worried about your child’s jaw development, pediatric dentists who specialize in infants, kids, and teens are also a great place to start. Both orthodontists and pediatric dentists can give your child an early orthodontic screening as their adult teeth are growing in.
At Showtime Smiles Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Dan is a pediatric dentist and orthodontist, so he will be able check for any abnormal bone growth and emerging teeth at an early orthodontic screening. From there, he can diagnose whether the child needs braces earlier on or not.
Orthodontists for Adults and Teens
Orthodontic treatments for adults and teens are similar but not quite the same. Adults may need special attention for issues such as bone loss or mild gingivitis, especially if they are older. It’s important for the doctor to monitor adult patients closely to ensure the braces do not exert to much pressure on the teeth at a time. This can lead to root resorption, a rare condition where the loss of dentine and cementum makes the tooth fall out.
Since teens are still growing, it can be easier to realign their teeth and jaw bones. They also have healthier teeth and bones, so there is less risk of dental complication throughout the orthodontic procedure for teenagers.
There are tons of options for teens and adults alike, including Invisalign, traditional braces, lingual braces, and Damon braces. Ask the orthodontist about what types of braces are offered at their practice.
2. Do you want Invisalign or Braces?
One decision many people struggle with is whether to choose Invisalign or braces. Here is a quick comparison between the two:
- Invisalign is a removable, clear aligner tray used to straighten teeth
- Invisalign retainers are typically replaced every 2 weeks; Showtime patients receive a 12 week supply of aligners
- Invisalign is custom-made to fit your mouth, so it looks very natural
- Invisalign can be more comfortable and safe than regular braces because there are no sharp wires or brackets
- Invisalign must be removed for eating and cleaning which may be inconvenient for forgetful patients
- It’s easy to clean teeth with Invisalign
- Invisalign can take from 6 – 12 months to show results
- Invisalign is a little pricier and costs around $3,500 – $8,000
- Traditional braces are made of metal wires and brackets that are bonded to the teeth for teeth realignment
- Braces are tightened every 8 – 10 weeks
- There is no need to remove braces when eating
- It can be difficult to clean teeth with braces
- Braces are better for treating severe orthodontic problems such as extreme overbites, underbites, gaps, etc.
- Braces typically take 1 – 3 years to take effect, depending on the severity of the situation
- Braces are typically less expensive, around $1500 – $5,000
Both traditional braces and Invisalign require the use of retainers afterward.
Ultimately, there is no right choice. It just depends what is important to you. Once you pick what treatment you want, you can start looking up dentists who specialize in it. From there, you can choose the best orthodontist for you.
3. What can you afford?
The most daunting part of going to the orthodontist is paying for the orthodontist. How much does the orthodontist cost anyway?
Orthodontist typically charge around the same price range, depending on the location. For example, getting braces in the heart of Dallas might cost you an arm and a leg compared to getting braces in McKinney. It’s also important to know that the cost of braces is unique to your situation. Call ahead of time to see what payment options the office provides. Here’s what you can ask about:
- Credit cards
- Debit cards
- Dental insurance
- Payment plans
Getting braces or Invisalign can be costly, so make sure the orthodontist you choose is ready to take your preferred payment, create a payment plan, or accept your insurance.
Now that you know what you’re looking for, don’t waste your time going to random orthodontists before doing your research.
Instead, ask around for referrals or look at online reviews when comparing them. Once you’ve narrowed down a few that offer the orthodontic options you’re interested in, call the office to ask a few questions. An oft overlooked aspect of visiting the orthodontist is how well you get along with the dental staff. Having a positive relationship with front desk workers can significantly improve your experience and speed up any paperwork that needs processing.
Once you’ve picked your top contenders, stop by for an office tour or if they offer it, a free consultation. There, you’ll be able to gauge if you like the office environment and whether the orthodontist is a good fit.
Here are a couple things to look out for when you’re on the search:
Make sure the orthodontist is board-certified. The orthodontist might have a degree and certification hung up on the wall, but you can always double-check online with the American Association of Orthodontists’ directory of board-certified orthodontists. This ensures that your doctor knows what he or she is doing and has the experience to properly operate.
- In-depth explanation
Ask the orthodontist to explain the treatment process(es) in-depth. Make sure you clearly understand how long it will take, how much it will cost, and what steps need to be taken. Not every orthodontist will recommend the same treatment, so choose someone who gives you legitimate reasons for their treatment choice.
- Office hours
Check if the office’s hours are compatible with your schedule. It’ll be a hassle to take off time just to get your braces tightened up to pick up new Invisalign trays, especially since you have to get it done every 2 – 4 weeks.
See if the office, tools, and procedures used are clean and sanitary. This is a no-brainer, but you don’t want any risk of infection. Besides cleanliness, see if you like the general atmosphere of the office. Is it friendly? Are there toys or magazines to occupy you and your family in the waiting room? For example, we always show movies and provide entertainment for kids at Showtime Smiles Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry.
Read contracts thoroughly before signing anything. You definitely don’t want to be getting stuck is some insane payment plan or legal dispute in the middle of getting your braces.
Finding the right orthodontist is no easy task, but it is one that pays off once you have the smile of your dreams. After all, braces don’t just serve superficial purposes; they’re often necessary for healthy jaw growth and day-to-day health.
If you have any questions about the orthodontic process, please refer to Showtime Smile’s Orthodontic FAQ. Our McKinney orthodontist, Dr. Dan, tries to provide as much information and as many resources to the public as possible. Patients should be well-informed about the health of their teeth. Feel free to contact Showtime Smiles Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry today to book an appointment with our orthodontist to learn more about your options for yourself or a loved one today.
If you are thinking about choosing an orthodontist, consider Showtime Smiles Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry and Dr. Dan Gehani!