You’ve decided you’re ready to begin orthodontic treatment, or maybe you’re not completely ready yet, but you want to find out more about it. Your next question may be, “How do I know which orthodontist to use?”
There are a few possible ways to start the process. The most obvious would be to ask your general dentist for a referral, as they are likely to know a good orthodontist. Another option would be to ask friends or family who have gone through treatment who their doctor was and if they would recommend him or her. If you’re unable to get any personal recommendations, you could also do a search on the internet to find an orthodontist in your area.
Once you have found an orthodontist the next step would be to go in for an initial consultation. During this exam you should get the answers to the following questions:
- Is the doctor a member of the AAO or ABO? (The American Association of Orthodontists-AAO is an organization that is open to orthodontists only, which will let you know this person is a true orthodontic specialist. A member of the American Board of Orthodontics-ABO is board certified, which means he or she has voluntarily gone through a certification process to demonstrate their knowledge in the field of orthodontics.)
- What type of treatment is recommended?
- How long will the treatment take and what type of care, if any, will be needed afterwards?
- Are orthodontic records going to be taken? (Full orthodontic records including x-rays, photographs, and study models should be taken. It may be necessary for the records to be taken before the doctor is able to provide you with the final treatment plan.)
- When should treatment be started?
Once you have the answers to these questions as well as any other specific concerns that you have, you need to determine if you feel comfortable with the practice. Unlike many other medical services, during orthodontic treatment you will visit the office on a regular basis and develop a relationship of sorts with the doctor and his staff. It is important that you are comfortable with the doctor, his assistants, and the office staff.
If you feel your questions are not being answered or that the doctor and/or his staff are not a match for you, then it may be necessary to seek out a second opinion. This is a relationship that will continue for months or perhaps even years, so it is vitally important that you trust the knowledge and feel at ease with the manner of the orthodontist you select and his staff.