Everyone needs to visit an orthodontist at some point or other. Ideally your first visit should have been when you were a kid so that any issues with your bite, jaw, or new teeth could be identified early – but if you didn’t go then, it’s not too late to go now.
The main reasons why you may need to visit an orthodontist is if you have issues with your teeth alignment, under-bite or over-bite, or difficulty chewing, biting, and speaking. While some dentists may be able to carry out certain orthodontic treatments to correct these issues, it is not the same as visiting an orthodontist who has far more experience dealing with them.
However before you actually see an orthodontist, you first need to know how to choose the right one. Frankly speaking there are many factors that need to be considered, but the five that are the most important are:
Qualifications and experience
The first thing you should do when researching orthodontists is find out more about their qualifications and experience. Ask about their degrees, certificates and any specialized training they may have attended, as well as how many years they’ve been practicing.
It is best if you look for orthodontists that are board-certified by the American Association of Orthodontists if you’re in the United States. If not, look into the certification by the orthodontist association in your country.
Types of treatment
Different orthodontists offer different types of treatment – and may have more experience in certain types. If you already know what type of treatment you’re interested in you should look for an orthodontist that offers it and has several years of experience in it.
For example, you may be interested in less noticeable alternatives to conventional braces in which case you should look for an orthodontist that offers Invisalign or other types of clear aligners.
Cost of treatment
The cost of orthodontic treatments can vary quite a bit, so you’ll want to shop around. Most orthodontists offer a free initial consultation, which is the best opportunity for you to ask about how much the overall treatment will cost.
Keep in mind that while most orthodontists quote all costs in their fee, some may not include the cost of follow-up visits, photos, x-rays, and other miscellaneous charges. Be sure to clearly ask what is (and is not) included in the quote so that you can make a fair comparison.
Insurance coverage and payment plans
To make sure there are no unexpected surprises, you should ask about what insurance the orthodontist accepts right from the get go. That way you can check whether your dental plan or insurance will cover the cost of your treatment.
In some cases you may need to shoulder some of the treatment costs on your own. If you do it may help to find out if there are any payment plans or financing available to help you cope with it.
Office hours and location
It is much more convenient if your orthodontist’s office is nearby and easy to get to. On top of that you may want to enquire about their opening hours to make sure that you’re able to make it to appointments.
Some orthodontists may open on Saturdays or have extended working hours on weekdays which may be convenient if you’re generally busy at work throughout the week.
If you take into account all the things listed above, it should make it easier for you to research and find the right orthodontist. Be sure to take your time and shop around until you’re fully satisfied.
Aside from looking up orthodontists online or in the yellow pages, you should also ask your friends and family as well as your regular dentist for recommendations. That way you’ll have a larger pool of candidates to choose from, and you’ll be able to get useful opinions that can help narrow down your options.