Find An Orthodontist
10 TIPS TO FINDING AN ORTHODONTIST
DENTIST VERSUS ORTHODONTIST:
Orthodontists are uniquely trained to provide tooth movement that maximizes a quality bite and esthetic result. Savvy General Dentists are also capable of providing quality care for simpler alignment situations. For quality treatment in more complicated situations……be wise…..consult an ORTHODONTIST.
Interestingly, there are dentists in the region that do little other than orthodontics. While they present themselves as orthodontists……they are not! They recognize that orthodontists are uniquely trained, and so present themselves as an orthodontist to gain your confidence.
Ask them directly: “Are you an Orthodontist?” Some will answer “I Specialize in Orthodontics.” That is not a yes. Ask again: “Are you an Orthodontist?” Get a “yes!” As the national consultant to the Orthodontist Directory, I have personally had to testify against dentists who dishonestly present themselves in person & in print as “orthodontist.”
While excellent orthodontists are occasionally NOT certified, Certification usually indicates a higher level of commitment & sophistication.
Ask around. Ask your dentist. Ask your friends. Research! Research! Research! The time you put into it will protect you!
Do not be convinced by someone who “seems to care.” I have found that very dishonest people are gifted at appearing particularly caring. Care will show in the results. Results define reputation. Rely on reputation.
Do NOT necessarily go to the orthodontist that IS IN your dentists’ office. While many quality orthodontists associate inside a dentist’s office, many poor quality associates rely on the dentist/owner for referrals. The conflict of interest should be obvious here. You may have a great experience in this scenario….just beware.
Your experience will be much easier if you find an orthodontist that performs auxiliary orthodontic procedures in the same office.
Most orthodontists are NOT willing to perform scheduled minor treatments themselves in the office. They will often refer this simple treatments to other practitioners in other offices, who are not very clear on exactly how an orthodontist would want these procedures done.
Extractions, Exposures, Esthetic Countouring, Bite Equilibration, Frenectomies, Gingivectomies, and other MINOR surgical procedures are best done by an orthodontist for two reasons:
1. Patient Convenience (it is easier to schedule the needed procedure in the same office)
2. Accuracy of Results (Often the referred to doctor does not do the procedure the way the orthodontist would have preferred, and the orthodontist just “works with it.”)
Do NOT be satisfied with straight at the END of your treatment. Your treatment should eliminate unsightly gum-line spaces, improve or eliminate the chipped or tattered edges of your front teeth, and include a quality, durable retainer to protect your teeth for the rest of your life.
If all you ask for is straight teeth…..that may be all you get. And it may not last long!
Quality retainers are esthetic, durable, well fitting, and forgiving. They should be removable, easy to wear….even enjoyable.
Esthetic retainers are easy to find. They are clear & cover all your teeth. Unfortunately, most esthetic retainers break within 6 months, because they are made of inferior material.
Durable Esthetic retainers are wonderful. Unfortunately, they are difficult to find. It should be expected to last over 15 years (maybe even a life-time). We use the Forgiver Retainer. ®
Well fitting are critical to maintaining your results. Look for an orthodontist with an in-office laboratory to fabricate retainers. Most offices send out retainer impressions to a laboratory in their region. It usually takes 1 to 2 weeks to get the retainer back for placement in the mouth. By then, often the teeth have shifted. The retainer usually fits ok, but not well.
Quality orthodontists provide a retainer within 24 hours. The retainers should fit tightly on the front teeth (where crookedness occurs) and passively on back teeth (where the bite needs freedom). Insist on a well-fitting retainer.
Because most human beings are NOT perfectly disciplined about wearing their retainers properly, crookedness can occur after braces. Whereas conventional retainers may not fit after minor crookedness, Forgiving retainers will PUSH YOUR TEETH BACK to where they were when the retainers were first made. They FORGIVE you for being imperfect.
Many types of forgiving retainers exist: Mushroom Spring Retainers are the most common. Dr. Rizkallah designed the “Forgiver ® Retainer” for his patients.
If your orthodontist uses conventional Hawley retainers, be conscientious about wearing your Hawley retainer. They are NOT FORGIVING.
Orthodontics does not have to take too long…..but it has to be a quality result. Most of our patients are done in as little as 4 months and as long as 14 months. Rarely does our treatment last longer.
Orthodontists that consistently require over two years of braces to complete treatment should be avoided. Rarely should quality orthodontic care take so long. Orthodontic treatment lasting over 2 years commonly causes cavities, long-term gum defects, root resorption, and white spots.
Proper speed is established with good planning and systematic execution.
Is 6 month braces possible? Absolutely. But that does not mean that everyone can accomplish quality results in 6 months. 6 months MAY perfect the case. It MAY ONLY perfect the smile. It MAY be unrealistic. See a certified orthodontist to know your options (remember to ask if the doctor is an orthodontist).
For quality results quickly, do proper research.
Find an orthodontis that uses digital X-rays AND 3D X-rays.
The quality of the digital images and reduced radiation make them far superior to conventional x-ray systems.
For more complex cases, find an orthodontist that uses 3D X-rays. These X-rays are critical for quality treatment of complex cases such as impacted canines & TMJ problems.
As an aside, I have had the misfortune of having my own children develop very complex orthodontic problems. I have successfully and efficiently treated my own children in large part because I utilized 3D X-rays as part of my diagnostic records.
In general, an office that has a laboratory on the premises is well-invested in that location. If that is their only office…..great! At least you can be sure it is their MAIN office.
An in-office laboratory means that you can get your retainer quickly. Whether it is your first retainer, or a replacement for one you lost, your teeth are shifting whenever your retainer is out of your mouth.
If you want the lowest price around……I’m sure you will find it. If you think high prices mean high quality….you would be surprised. The sad fact is that PRICE is very deceptive.
I list price last on this list because it is often the least useful deciding factor. Unfortunately, it is often used as the primary basis of consumption decision-making.
While price is VERY important….when you are spending thousands…..a few hundred more or less shouldn’t influence your decision too much. YET, do not be deceived when the price is very high…..you may be led to believe that you are getting more. You may not be.
Prices should be competitive. The market drives the price. As such, prices should be comparable. If an office has a particularly high price….ask them why. If an office has a particularly low price…..ask them why. I would stay away from both offices. At the former, they are probably cheating your wallet. At the latter, they are probably cheating your health.
I take over (braces already on) treatment for about 150 patients a year. These patients come to my office after being frustrated in treatment elsewhere. They eventually take the time to do proper research (due diligence ) and end up asking us to “fix the mess” someone else started. After paying thousands elsewhere, they end up paying us as well. They end up spending more of all their resources (money, time, energy) than if they had done proper research to begin with.
Invest the time to find a quality orthodontist in your area. You will be rewarded with a result that you can enjoy for the rest of your life.
M Z Rizkallah DDS MSD PC
National Consultant, Orthodontist Directory