• Young woman with braces

Choosing the Right Orthodontist – What to Look For

Everyone deserves to look and feel their best, and as the saying goes, you’re never fully dressed without a smile. That’s why finding the right orthodontist is paramount to having a beautiful smile and optimal oral health.

Whether you’re considering orthodontic treatment for yourself or a loved one, it can be difficult to know which provider to go with, or what questions to ask. Selecting the right professional can make a world of difference when it comes to achieving your desired results and having a positive experience.

There are numerous factors to consider, ranging from the doctor’s qualifications to the location of their office, their experience level, and more. Navigating these decisions and making the right choice can seem daunting. Not to worry! Below, we’ll go over the essential elements to look for and what questions to ask when selecting the right orthodontist for your individual needs.

Orthodontist’s Qualifications and Credentials

Like with most specialized professionals, when evaluating an orthodontist, it’s important to view their qualifications and credentials. Orthodontists differ from regular dentists. Orthodontists are dentists who have undergone additional specialized training in the field of orthodontics.

You want to make sure that the orthodontist you select has completed accredited orthodontic residency programs. Additionally, you should ensure that their certifications are from reputable institutions. In Canada, any orthodontist you choose should have attended a program accredited by either the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada or the Commission on Dental Accreditation in the United States. You can search for Accredited Programs here.

Expertise and Experience Matter

Experience matters when it comes to selecting a medical professional. Experience often breeds proficiency and expertise. Orthodontics is a very nuanced field, and therefore you want an orthodontist who has experience treating a plethora of orthodontic issues, from mild misalignments to complex cases that require interdisciplinary care. An experienced orthodontist will be better prepared to handle individual patient needs and foresee any possible future complications.

Don’t be afraid to ask your potential orthodontist about their success track record or ask to see before and after photos of previous clients. Remember that it is your smile, and you’re allowed to see multiple orthodontists before choosing the one you are most comfortable with.

Innovation and Modern Treatment Options

Like many other medical fields, orthodontic treatments have evolved very significantly in recent years. Therefore, when choosing an orthodontist, look for those who offer a wide range of modern treatment options that can be tailored to your individual needs. While traditional braces might still be the best option for many, there are other great options on the market today, such as Invisalign, lingual braces, and ceramic braces.

Additionally, the ability to access diverse treatment modalities can help ensure personalized care and more favourable outcomes. Besides innovation in braces and teeth alignment, there are other cutting-edge technologies on the market today such as digital impressions, 3D imaging, and accelerated orthodontics. These can all help improve treatment efficiency and your comfort levels during treatment.

Remember, unlike routine surgery, orthodontic procedures often take months or years to achieve the desired results. Therefore, you want to ensure you’re getting the best treatment possible to ensure you’re comfortable and achieving the results you’re after.

Patient Reviews and Referrals

Unless you live in a very small town, chances are there are multiple orthodontists in your area. Don’t be afraid to ask around about people’s experiences and who they recommend.

There are many ways to do this. Reach out personally to your friends or family members to see who they recommend. Additionally, many communities now have Facebook groups or ways to connect through apps like NextDoor. There’s no harm in posting in one of these community groups to get firsthand reviews.

Online platforms like Google reviews and Yelp will also have many reviews and firsthand accounts from current and former patients. Many orthodontists’ websites will also feature patient testimonials.

Remember, the bad reviews are sometimes more important than the good ones and no two people will have the exact same experience.

 Patient-Centered Care and Communication

Communication is essential in fostering a strong relationship between patient and doctor. It’s important that you find an orthodontist who takes the time to listen to your concerns, answers your questions, and doesn’t rush you out of the room. A patient-centric approach that empowers patients to participate in their treatment journey is indicative of a compassionate and dedicated practitioner.

Remember, it’s not just about your direct contact with your orthodontist during the appointment. What about the receptionist? Are you able to speak to a person when you call the clinic or are you constantly getting their voicemail? Are you able to get an appointment in a reasonable timeframe or do you need to wait weeks and weeks? These are all important considerations when looking at which clinic to select.

Ultimately, you must trust your gut in making the decision on which orthodontist to go with. It’s very important that you feel comfortable with them. You will be having multiple appointments with them over years of treatment, so you will see lots of them! If you don’t feel like you can communicate your concerns or issues, or be seen in a reasonable timeframe, then they aren’t the right practitioner for you.

Office Environment and Convenience

While it might not seem like the most important consideration, it is still a very important one. Convenience plays a key role in ensuring a positive experience, especially for those with families or busy schedules. Consider where the office is located and the hours they’re open. If they’re only open when you’re at work and you can’t easily take time off, then it will become very difficult to get in to see them. If they’re over an hour away and you don’t drive, getting to your appointments will feel like a real hassle.

While you’re in there for your initial appointment, have a look at the office too. Evaluate if the space is clean, comfortable, and adhering to modern infection control protocols.

Friendly staff, extended hours, and flexible scheduling options can all make a huge difference in your overall experience.

Cost Considerations

Unlike other healthcare, dentists and orthodontists are not covered by OHIP. Orthodontic treatments can be a very significant financial investment. Therefore, for many, cost is a crucial aspect of the decision-making process. This is not to say go to the cheapest option around, as quality and expertise is extremely important when making your decision. However, it’s important to find a provider whose services align with your budgetary constraints. Both dentists and orthodontists can vary greatly in price from one location to another, so it’s an important question to ask upfront.

Inquire about the cost of appointments, consultations, x-rays, and retainers. While it’s important to understand the overall cost of your treatment, it’s also good to have an understanding of what each individual service costs.

While most orthodontists take private insurance, some also offer flexible payment plans to help ease the financial burden.

Continuing Care and Long-Term Support

Orthodontic treatment is about so much more than just a straighter smile. It’s about maintaining optimal oral health and stability in the long run. A good orthodontist will emphasize the importance of follow-up care. Regular progress assessments, adjustments, and personalized guidance on retainer usage and oral hygiene are all essential components of proper post-treatment care.

Additional Considerations When Making Your Decision

1. Specialized Services

Some orthodontists offer specialized services beyond traditional orthodontic treatment. This includes orthognathic surgery, dentofacial orthopedics, or treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. If you or your family member require more specialized or customized treatment, look for an orthodontist who has experience in these treatment solutions.

2. Emergency Care Options

Orthodontic issues can oftentimes be fairly emergent. Broken brackets or wires can occur unexpectedly and are very time sensitive. Ask the orthodontist about their policies for emergencies outside of regular office hours. This includes access to emergency care or guidance on temporary solutions to mitigate your pain or discomfort until an appointment can be scheduled.

Their Approach

Some orthodontists may prefer more conservative treatment options, while others prefer more proactive intervention. All practitioners will have a slightly different treatment approach and philosophy. Understanding this will help align your expectations with the recommended course of treatment.

Additionally, some dentists and orthodontists take a very traditional and focused view with their treatment. They look at oral health as a standalone issue. Other orthodontists believe that oral care is part of your overall healthcare and take a more holistic approach. Learn more about Holistic Dentistry here.

Professional Development

As we stated above, orthodontic treatments and techniques are continuing to change and evolve. You want an orthodontist who believes in continuing their education and staying up to date on more modern treatments and approaches. Inquire about your orthodontist’s commitment to continuing education, participation in professional organizations, and involvement in research.

Making an Informed Decision Helps Ensure a Positive Experience

Selecting the right orthodontist for your needs is a significant decision that can profoundly impact your oral health, confidence, and overall well-being. It’s important to ask questions and decide what is most important to you. The right orthodontist should be able to check all the above boxes. Consider their qualifications, experience, modern treatment options, patient reviews, cost, and convenience factors to make an informed decision that aligns with your preferences and needs.

Trust your instincts and select your orthodontist not just based on the above checklist but on their professionalism, compassion, and commitment to excellence.

Your smile deserves nothing but the best possible care, so don’t be afraid to see a couple of different orthodontists before you make your final decision.

At Georgian Dental, we understand the importance of selecting the right orthodontist for your needs. Our team of experienced professionals provides personalized care and exceptional results in a comfortable and welcoming environment.

Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to see if Georgian Dental is the right orthodontist for you!

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