Five Questions to Ask Orthodontic Care Specialists

Seeing a general dentist a couple of times a year is fine for many people, but sometimes you may need the services of orthodontic care specialists. They are in demand when someone in your family has an overbite, an underbite or needs teeth realigned to fix crowding or spacing. Also known as Orthodontists, which are specialists who spend an additional two years studying to treat more serious dental problems like teeth and jaw alignment and dental and facial irregularities, according to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).

When looking for a specific practice, get some information before deciding who to trust with your smile. Here are five questions to ask your potential orthodontist.

Orthodontic Care Specialists Experience?

Knowing which orthodontics program your orthodontist attended can be important to making a decision to finding the right specialist, however, not as much as how many years of practical experience they have. You should also ask if they're members of the AAO; only dentists who have completed the required training can join. Use the AAO website to look for potential orthodontists in your area, and to check on doctor biographies and experience.

If you know people with children wearing braces, ask for a recommendation. Also ask orthodontists you're considering if they can provide references, to give you an idea of past or current patients' opinion of the practice.

What Are Your Hours?

Your family is busy. Missing class or work isn't ideal, so seek orthodontist care specialists whose office is open after school, in the early evening or on weekends. Many orthodontic care specialists are on-call during weekends or after hours for emergency treatments, too. Finding an orthodontic practice that will work around your busy schedule ensures that nothing interferes with an appointment, and allows your family to receive as much attention as is needed.

What Options are Available?

Be sure to ask orthodontic care specialists questions about options available. Your teenager might feel self-conscious about having braces on his or her teeth, and you might worry about them showing in school pictures for years to come. Fortunately, traditional braces aren't your only choice. Less visible tooth-colored braces or clear aligners might suit your teen. Lingual braces are located on the back surface of the tooth inside of the mouth by the tongue or palate, are another great alternative.

How Long Will the Treatment Take?

It's the one question on every patient's mind: How long will I have to wear braces? The average treatment, according to the AAO, takes about two years. But it can take longer in some cases. Along with an estimate of the treatment's duration, ask the orthodontist how often he expects to see your teen. Knowing how many times a year you need to visit can help your child better understand the process and his progress.

No matter what your agreement looks like, personal maintenance will only make the experience easier. Toothpastes such as Colgate® Cavity Protection use active fluoride to strengthen teeth against the bacteria that braces can keep stuck in hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. Ask your orthodontist if he recommends a fluoride rinse for added protection.

What's the Cost?

Cost is still your bottom line when it comes to orthodontic treatment. Different orthodontists may charge different costs, and in some cases a difference in price has nothing to do with the treatment quality. If you interview several orthodontists and one quotes you a price considerably lower than the others, ask them to qualify it. What's the catch?

For higher quotes, ask what's included. Learn if you'll need to pay more out-of-pocket if the treatment takes longer than expected, or if you'll have to pay an additional fee for each visit on top of the cost of the braces themselves.

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