Whether you’re ready for braces or just need to talk with an expert about your different options, selecting the right orthodontist makes all the difference. After all, you don’t want to trust your smile to just anyone. While some dentists may advertise a specialty in orthodontics, only a certified orthodontist will have completed the necessary training through an accredited specialty program to be officially designated an orthodontist. This training includes two to three years of accredited study beyond dental school and the successful completion of a residency specialty program.
When selecting an orthodontist, confirm that he or she is accredited by the American Board of Orthodontists (ABO). Board certification ensures that an orthodontist’s clinical knowledge and competency has been examined for proficiency and excellence. The American Board of Orthodontists can provide you with a list of board certified orthodontists in your community. Many orthodontists will also receive a master’s degree during training, adding the initials “MS” following their name and DDS degree designation. Board certification and a Master’s degree are two ways to confirm that an orthodontist has received proper training. You can also check with your state licensing board to verify dental licensure status and if any complaints have been brought against a practice.
If you are brand new to a community, finding a list of good orthodontists can be a challenge. In addition to checking with the ABO, see if a community magazine or paper publishes an annual “Best Of” list. These lists often include rankings for popular medical and dental professionals in the local community. Unbiased online reviews and patient testimonials will also give you an initial impression for how different people feel about a potential orthodontist.
Talk to friends, family, coworkers and neighbors for recommendations. Does a friend or neighbor currently have braces or know someone who does? Someone who is currently receiving treatment can describe the orthodontist’s relationship with his or her staff and patients. Have they had any problems during treatment? How easy is it to schedule or change an appointment? Has the orthodontist explained the different treatment procedures? Has the patient experienced any pain during treatment? Remember, braces can naturally cause some soreness because the teeth are being readjusted. Experiencing soreness is not a bad thing; what matters is how the orthodontist addresses this pain.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list to one or two potential orthodontists, contact their practices to schedule initial diagnostic meetings. During these meetings, the orthodontist will discuss the different procedures available and which treatment options may be best for you. This meeting is an important opportunity to evaluate the orthodontist’s patient manner. Do you feel comfortable with his approach to treatment?
Your smile is special – when it comes to entrusting it to an orthodontist, don’t rush. Take the time to do your research and talk to patients. It’s important that you select the right orthodontist to meet your needs and enhance your beautiful smile.