Finding an orthodontist is an important decision that should not be taken lightly. To ensure you receive the best care, here are six key factors to consider in how to choose an orthodontist, including professional qualifications, reputation, and office environment.
The location of your orthodontist should be a key factor in your decision. While distance should not be a deal breaker, it is important to find an orthodontist relatively close to you. Not only will this help when attending regular appointments, but also, if there are ever any emergency issues that need to be dealt with quickly the office will only be a short drive away. Additionally, good public transport and plenty of on-site parking can make the journey easier. For our patients, we provide onsite parking in both locations, which makes popping in and out of the office for quick checkups fast and easy.
One of the most important factors to consider in how to choose an orthodontist is their experience and qualifications. Orthodontics is a diverse field, so reading up on your potential orthodontist’s educational and clinical background will help you choose the right one. Researching your prospective orthodontist online can also give you an insight into their reputation.
Many orthodontists list their qualification badges and logos at the bottom of their site. These badges represent organizations that orthodontists can join, but most of these organizations are voluntary and do not necessarily represent competency or the skill of the orthodontist. The most important and basic qualification for an orthodontist is being a member of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) as this is the association that is required for all orthodontists in order to be licensed.
When talking with potential orthodontists, ask questions such as how many years they have been practicing, where they trained, what their clinical background was, what kinds of procedures they are qualified to perform, and what their treatment philosophy is. We also suggest asking questions about how they have contributed to the profession clinically as well as in research. Some orthodontists are more like engineers and pioneer new techniques and solutions, while others are more business oriented. Every orthodontist is different and each one offers a different perspective on how they practice. Try to get inside the head of the orthodontist to understand what they are passionate about.
In addition, we suggest asking your prospective orthodontist if they specialize in a specific treatment. Some orthodontists streamline their practice to use one or two main forms of treatment. Other orthodontists prefer a more well-rounded approach and will use the best solution as opposed to a one-size-fits-all treatment.
Dentist can treat with an orthodontic appliance, but unless they have a specialty license from the state of Illinois, dentists cannot use the term orthodontist unless they have an orthodontist on staff. It is a fine line of distinction, but an important one to know. A similar disconnect occurs when you employ an on-line company such as Smile Direct or any other similar companies for orthodontic aligners. With these companies, it is often hard to tell who is responsible for deciding on the proper diagnosis and treatment and whether they can be held responsible for any problems that might occur during treatment. Treatment issues can be numerous (see a video for yourself: Why You Should NEVER Go To The Dentist For Braces ) as consumer aligner companies do not require the use of full mouth radiographs to create their aligner systems.
Orthodontists are the only dental specialty that are legally considered experts in correcting misaligned teeth and jaws (dentists often do orthodontic treatments, but legally, they are not orthodontists and are not recognized as such professionally). Each orthodontist has their own areas of expertise or specialties, so it is important to consider whether they have the particular qualifications to meet your needs. Do they specialize in certain treatments such as Invisalign, braces, retainers, or jaw growth? It is essential that you ensure that the orthodontist is experienced in the treatments you want, but also be open to alternative treatments that you may not have heard about. Different orthodontists offer different solutions to the same problem.
It is also important to consider an orthodontist’s treatment philosophy. Some orthodontists streamline their practice for high-volume. Other orthodontists treat their patients in a more deliberate manner that is small scale. Some orthodontists believe in straightening teeth to look like a Hollywood smile type of look while other orthodontists will align teeth in a natural way that accounts for individual differences in tooth shape and skeletal/facial alignment. Orthodontic philosophy is important and affects how orthodontists run their practice.
It is also important to consider an orthodontist’s treatment philosophy. Some orthodontists streamline their practice for high-volume. Other orthodontists treat their patients in a more deliberate manner that is small scale. Some orthodontists believe in straightening teeth to look like a Hollywood smile type of look while other orthodontists will align teeth in a natural way that accounts for individual differences in tooth shape and facial alignment. Orthodontic philosophy is important and affects how orthodontists run their practice.
Reviews play an important role in finding trustworthy orthodontists. At a minimum, read online patient ratings and reviews to determine whether the orthodontist has a good reputation. Ask people you trust — such as family, friends, and colleagues — for recommendations on who they have had good experiences with. Also, check websites like Google or Yelp for more detailed reviews from past patients about their visits with the orthodontist. This can help you gauge if the orthodontist is worth your time and money.
That being said, reviews are not everything! Many practices are much more social media focused and encourage reviews, while other practices may choose to focus less on marketing and more on the patient experience and dental care. The internet changed a lot about how practices are managed and social media requires extra time and resources. As a result, many orthodontists take a more word-of-mouth approach and choose to have a low social media presence. These kinds of practices usually have networks of dental professionals that continue to refer patients so they do not have to make themselves as well known on the internet. The point being, public reviews do not necessarily equate to being a better choice than someone that has fewer reviews. Sometimes the best orthodontists are the ones that have no reviews at all and are seen as one of the best kept “secrets” of orthodontists to visit.
It is important to ask the orthodontist about payment plan options and if your type of insurance is accepted. Many offices offer their own financing plans, so it is worth shopping around to find any special offers or discounts available. It is important to ask about the specifics of financing. Many offices charge interest. We do not.
In addition, make sure you consider how much time you can commit to paying off your balance as orthodontic treatment may take several years depending on the procedures necessary for you. Also, some orthodontists have a more strict repayment plan, while others are more flexible. Our plan is flexible, but we also assess costs differently than most practices.
Orthodontists have many different treatment styles and some offices may offer specific orthodontic treatment options or products that others may not. We recommend getting a consultation from more than one orthodontic office. Most all orthodontic offices offer complimentary consultations (such as ourselves). Please take advantage of this!
During your consultation, it is important to feel comfortable with your orthodontist. Here are some questions to consider:
By visiting more than one office, you are more likely to find an orthodontist who can meet your individual needs while staying within your budget. We wish you the best of luck on your search and we invite you to learn about what sets our practice apart from others.
4 N Washington St.
Naperville, IL 60540
803 N Bridge St.
Yorkville, IL 60560