What Questions Should I Ask when Choosing an Orthodontist?

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Choosing the right orthodontist at the right time can be a difficult task; however, there are a few questions that can make the process much easier and help you determine if a certain orthodontist is right for your needs, or if you should move on and choose another.

What treatments do you offer?

Though most orthodontists have been trained in all orthodontic treatments, not all are willing to perform them on their patients. Some treatments may be more extreme than others, and some orthodontists will shy away from these in favor of the more traditional treatments. Other offices may simply not be equipped or have the right resources to perform certain treatments. Asking an orthodontist before any contracts have been signed will ensure that you obtain the best possible treatment.

How old do I (or my children) have to be for orthodontics?

Some orthodontists prefer to start as early as possible, implementing several preventative treatments on young children, so that there are fewer problems when they become teenagers. Others wait until the mouth is completely finished growing, so that there is no possibility that new teeth growing in will interfere with any of the treatments and possibly make them less effective. Whichever treatment plan you prefer, be sure to discuss it with Dr. Gemmi and Dr. Middleberg so there is no confusion about this plan when the time comes to begin the procedure.

How often will I need to have an appointment?

Because every patient’s treatment and needs will vary slightly, he/she might not be able to give you a firm number. He/she should be able to give you a general number, based on the average patient, so you can determine what kind of imposition treatment will be on your work or school schedule. In the case of braces, the wires need to be changed every few weeks in order to move the teeth carefully and quickly. Other treatments require appointments every few weeks to check their progress and see if any adjustments need to be made.

How painful are orthodontic treatments?

Most people who have orthodontic applications talk about the pain of braces, spacers, and spreaders. Many orthodontists strive to ensure that their patients are as comfortable as possible. Asking about what kind of measures are taken to mitigate the pain of treatments will help you decide if this orthodontist is right for you, or if you should find one that has better recommendations of how to avoid soreness and jaw strain.

Do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed before orthodontics?

Some orthodontists prefer for their patients to have their wisdom teeth removed before braces are applied, simply because wisdom teeth, when they grow in, tend to push teeth out of alignment. This can not only ruin any work done by braces, but some spreading treatments can actually cause wisdom teeth to be more painful if they are not removed prior to treatment. Other doctors, after reviewing your x-rays, will determine that it is fine to wait until for removal until after treatment.

How much will my treatment cost?

Most orthodontists have a pre-selected payment plan and work with your insurance to ensure that orthodontics is a viable option for your budget. However, some doctors may work only with certain insurance plans, or may offer treatments that another orthodontist offers for less money. In either of these cases, it is important to know before you begin treatment. Most orthodontists are willing to give you a mock-up of your treatment’s cost, just to give you an idea of how much it would cost, even if they cannot give you final numbers right away.

What alternatives are there to braces?

Though almost every office now offers alternatives to braces, some prefer to stick with the traditional bracket and wire application, saving other treatments only for very special cases. In recent years, there have been several innovations when it comes to teeth straightening techniques, including using Invisalign and Invisalign Teen, a series of clear plastic retainers, instead of metal brackets, to gradually move teeth. Because of their newness, and because these treatments are harder to create and more expensive, some orthodontists do not yet offer them. By asking if there are alternatives to braces, you can find out what other options this office can offer you if you want something less intrusive.

What will happen if I do not start treatment and instead, wait a few years?

After looking at your x-rays and bite pattern, both of which can be sent over by your dentist, the orthodontist should have a pretty good idea of what could happen if you decide to delay treatment. He can tell you whether waiting a few years is viable, or if treatment should being immediately.

What are the hours of this office?

Some orthodontists’ offices are notorious for keeping odd hours, which often guarantees an appointment will be during school or work hours. Some offices may have taken measures to allow their patients to have more flexible appointments, but either way, it is important to know the times you will most likely have to have appointments. High schools are especially accommodating when it comes to orthodontist appointments, as so many of their students have them, and they understand that some offices are only open from eight in the morning until five in the afternoon.

What happens if I have an orthodontic emergency?

Braces, especially, are prone to uncomfortable situations. Sometimes wires will slide free from their brackets and begin poking cheeks and gums. This can be not only irritating, but actually debilitating. If a bracket pops off, if a wire or rubber band comes loose, or if any other problem arises, you need to know you can call your orthodontists and he/she will either tell you how to fix it or arrange for an emergency appointment. If the orthodontist has no contingency plans, it is best to move on to a provider who does. Braces are uncomfortable enough with wires and brackets causing additional problems.