Choosing an Orthodontist for you and your family is one of life’s biggest decisions. Your smile and overall dental health will be improved forever if you take the time to research and learn more about orthodontics and its lifetime benefits for you and your family.
Our purpose in creating this guide is to help educate you on the differences between orthodontics performed by an ORTHODONTIC Specialist, versus a General or Family Dentist. We will also educate you on what questions you should ask an orthodontist that you are considering for your family’s care.
Finally, we will explain the different treatment options today such as metal braces with colors, metal braces that ‘self-ligate”, clear braces, braces behind the teeth and Invisalign.™
Let’s get started.
1. What is the difference between an Orthodontist and a General Dentist when it comes to moving teeth and placing braces or Invisalign™?
An Orthodontist is a dentist first who then enters a residency program for an additional 2 to 3 years to specialize only in Orthodontics. A General Dentist may do some orthodontics or Invisalign™ because they have taken a weekend course or several weekend seminars. They are licensed to perform all types of dentistry, but mostly their expertise is in restorative dentistry like crowns, bridges, fillings, cleanings and implants.
Because all an Orthodontic specialist does is braces, they have the most experience and therefore are the most qualified of all dentists to deliver exceptional orthodontic treatment results.
2. How will I know if the dentist I am seeing is an Orthodontic Specialist?
This is simple, as most offices will have a logo, business card or stationary that clearly states that they are SPECIALISTS in Orthodontics. Other things to look for are the American Association of Orthodontics Logo and the American Board of Orthodontics Logo (only Orthodontic Specialists can be members of these organizations.) Of course, you can simply ask the receptionist, office manager or even the doctor for verification.
3. Does the Orthodontist you are consulting with have experience with Early Interceptive Treatment?
The American Association of Orthodontics recommends all children be seen at age 7 for an Orthodontic Evaluation. If your child has been recommended to see an orthodontist at an early age by your dentist or even pediatrician, make sure they are experienced in treating patients that do not have all their adult teeth.
About 50% of Orthodontists do not start treatment until all the adult teeth are present. If your child has crowded teeth, a narrow upper jaw, severe mouth breathing, a thumb or finger habit or under or overbite, all these problems should and can be solved early while he or she is still growing. Make sure you see an Orthodontist with experience in early orthodontic treatment.
4. Does the Orthodontist have the latest technology in their offices?
The more progressive and up to date an office is, the more likely that the doctor is taking the time and money to constantly upgrade and keep his or her practice at the forefront of modern orthodontics. Having digital x-rays and a paperless office helps for better communication with other dental and medical professionals and allows you the patient to access your information quickly and easily via a user name and password.
Also important, is to make sure the Orthodontist you are seeing is using the latest technology in braces. The newer braces and wires make treatment go faster and usually with less discomfort than in the past. The days of “railroad” teeth are gone, with smaller metal braces and clear, ceramic braces. Newer style braces mean better treatment outcomes and less time in the Orthodontist office.
5. If you are looking to have Invisalign™ treatment, is the Orthodontist experienced with Invisalign enough to handle your case?
Most Orthodontists will list that they do Invisalign™, but very few actually offer it to patients when they come in for a consultation. Most Orthodontists have been trained in braces and wires and have not spent time in the needed continuing education hours to learn how to use the Invisalign™ system.
The Invisalign™ system of tooth movement involves clear, removable aligners that are worn 22 hours a day. You receive a new set every 2 weeks and each new set gradually moves your teeth into the prescribed position. Your Orthodontist determines this prescribed position. The success of your Invisalign results is dependent on your cooperation wearing them the 22 hours a day and also the Orthodontist who has taken the time to evaluate and set up your case using the proprietary software that Invisalign has developed.
Most people think that Invisalign™ does all the work, but the reality is, they provide the software imaging and the manufacturing process. A qualified, certified and experienced Orthodontist is what truly determines a successful result.
6. Does the Orthodontist offer a comprehensive fee that covers all your appointments, appliances, x-rays, photos, retainers and even retainer checks after treatment is completed?
Most Orthodontists will offer a comprehensive fee that covers everything mentioned above. Make sure before you sign any paperwork, that there are no hidden fees for retainers at the end or for additional Invisalign aligners. If the office does have separate fees for retainers or x-rays, it should be clearly outlined what those charges are from the start.
7. Does the Orthodontist offer interest free affordable payment plans?
Most offices will offer several financing options including an in-house program as well as third party financing. Orthodontics is probably the BEST BARGAIN in dentistry today.
Most Orthodontists will work within your monthly budget to get payments that are affordable for you. Orthodontics is an investment in you and your child’s future. Studies have shown over and over the benefits both from a business and financial standpoint (better job opportunities) as well as increased self-esteem and confidence that comes with a really great smile.
Once you complete your treatment and have your gorgeous new smile, your retainers, which you wear mostly at night, will keep your teeth straight for life. There are not too many services or products that last a lifetime like braces. Patients who are not cooperative wearing their retainers will experience some tooth movement however. So remember to always wear your retainers. They are your insurance policy on your new smile.
There are 4 types of braces available today.
METAL BRACES: These are the traditional ones that most patients wear. You see them often with brightly colored ties that hold the wire in place. Usually these are popular with kids under the age of 12.
There are also metal braces that have no ties and are called “self-ligating.” This means that the wire is held in place with a small door that is on the actual braces. The door closes and keeps the wire in place. Your Orthodontist will open the door to remove the wire and put in a new one. There are several “brand” names for these types of braces such as Damon, SPEED, In-Ovation and Empower, to name a few. They all work the same and usually will speed up your treatment by 3 to 6 months.
CLEAR BRACES: These are usually made out of ceramic and can be “self-ligating” or require ties that are usually clear instead of brightly colored. Patients opt for these types of braces when they want a less noticeable look. They work the same as the metal braces and may cost slightly more money depending on the office you are consulting with.
BRACES BEHIND THE TEETH: These are also called lingual braces (Incognito is a brand name). Many movie stars get these because they cannot show braces on their teeth. They can be quite expensive (almost double the metal and clear braces) and can be uncomfortable to your tongue. Very few Orthodontists offer these types of braces due to the cost and the fact that they can take more time.
INVISALIGN™: These are clear, removable braces or aligners that are worn 22 hours a day. The only reason they are removed is to eat and brush your teeth. They have the advantage of being removable, so it is easy to clean your teeth and eat whatever you want. They are also very comfortable and there is virtually no pain with Invisalign™ aligners. The only disadvantage is if you do not wear them the required number of hours you will not get the results you see on the computer imaging that your Orthodontist prescribed for you. Another advantage is that they are now about the same price as braces, so they are very affordable.
We hope this consumer guide has been helpful in educating yourself about the world of Orthodontics and its many opportunities for you and your family. We offer an opportunity to visit our offices for a FREE EXAM and CONSULTATION (value $129) to learn more about what modern orthodontics can do for your smile and overall health.
Contact us by email or give us a call at our nearest office:
In Grass Valley, CA:
1369 Whispering Pines Lane
In Rocklin, CA:
6526 Lonetree Blvd.