Your General Dentist is not an Orthodontist
Orthodontists start out as general dentists, but in addition to dental school they need to complete another two to three years of an intensive residency program. They then need to pass an additional multi-day licensing exam to become a certified orthodontist. This makes your orthodontist an absolute specialist when it comes to orchestrating the movements of your teeth and jaws.
It’s important to feel comfortable with the office
It’s always a great idea to ask for a recommendation from someone who has been to see an orthodontist or two. Whether it’s a friend, co-worker, or family member, they will probably be more than happy to share their first-hand experience. Your general dentist is also a great resource to get a recommendation, and will often refer you to a specialist if they notice a problem.
Choosing a practice to trust with the beauty of your smile or your child’s smile is an important decision. Today’s new treatment modalities make treatment faster and more comfortable.
Does the doctor or assistant have a pleasant chairside manner? Do you feel like they’re listening and addressing your concerns? Is the staff friendly and helpful? Does the office have contests or chances to participate in activities?
Orthodontic treatment has the potential to be a long process, so you’ll want to make sure you or your child are comfortable with the doctor and staff.
Consider education and experience
Once you have a shortlist of a few offices, find out about their educational background. Where did they go to school? What kind of continuing education or specialty training have they had? Before you set up a consultation, make sure he or she is a licensed member of the American Association of Orthodontists -- this ensures that the doctor remains up to date on the newest and most effective clinical procedures.
A few things to consider
- Who will be overseeing your treatment: the orthodontist or assistants?
- Is the office located near your home or work to make appointments as convenient as possible?
- Do they offer extended office hours before or after work and school?
- What types of insurance does the office work with and what kind of financing do they offer?
- Do the orthodontist and staff seem interested in making your experience personalized or do you feel like “just a number”?
Always ask questions!
We don't bite: ask us any question that you have! It’s important for you to understand what type of orthodontic problems you have and the most effective ways to treat them.
American Board of Orthodontics doctor certification
The American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) was founded in 1929 and is the oldest and most prestigious specialty board in dentistry. The ABO’s aim is to elevate the standards of the practice of orthodontia, to familiarize the public with its aims and ideals, and to protect the public against irresponsible and unqualified practitioners.
The board upholds four main objectives supported by its mission:
- To evaluate the knowledge and clinical skills of graduates of accredited orthodontic programs by conducting exams and conferring time-limited certificates
- To re-evaluate clinical knowledge and skills through administration of recertification exams throughout a Diplomate’s career
- To support the development of quality graduate, postgraduate, and continuing education programs in orthodontics
- To promote and encourage certification expertise throughout the world
Becoming board certified
To become board certified, an orthodontist has to pass a rigorous set of written and clinical examinations, as well as a comprehensive review of his or her credentials. The initial process of becoming board certified can take anywhere from five to ten years. Once certified, the orthodontist must become recertified every ten years to maintain board-certified status.
A board-certified orthodontist, also known as a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics, has been voluntarily examined by his or her peers on the basis of knowledge and clinical skills. Becoming board certified signifies the orthodontist’s pursuit of continued proficiency and excellence in orthodontics.