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How to choose an orthodontist

The do’s and don’ts of choosing an orthodontist.

•Write down questions in advance. Bring up things that concern you.

•Visit websites such as braces.org for more information before your visit.

•If you’ve been referred to multiple orthodontists, visit their websites (if they have them). Learn a little about orthodontics beforehand. If you’ve heard a couple of different names of orthodontists, bounce them off your general dentist or your pediatric dentist. Ask questions such as “have you seen any of his or her work?” and “What do you think of it?”

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•Always feel free to ask additional questions, and make sure you’re comfortable with the answers you’re getting. “Good doctors are good teachers,” says Lee Graber, past president of the American Assn. of Orthodontics and an orthodontist in Vernon Hills, Ill. Orthodontists need to be able to explain why they’re doing what they’re doing, the expected result, and of course the consequences of not going ahead with the treatment, says Graber.

•If you still don’t feel comfortable with the research you’ve done on your own and the questions you’ve asked, get a second opinion. It’s important to have good rapport and communication with the orthodontist, because it can be a long-term relationship. Says Graber: “I might see a youngster at age 7, not treat them until age 11, but still follow them through with them until they’re 18. So I’ve seen that youngster for 12 years.”

•Be sure that the person you’re seeing has his or her credentials and is a specialist.

•Don’t hesitate to get second opinions, but beware of soliciting too many opinions. “There are a lot of roads to Mecca in orthodontics and a lot of different ways to do things and get good results,” says Graber. “So you may hear things explained differently. While I as a healthcare professional might be able to differentiate that he’s using different words but talking about the same thing that she was in this office, the consumer may get confused.”

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•If you find someone you like right off the bat, don’t feel badly about picking that person. Most initial exams are done at minimal costs for patients to meet the doctor and find out the scope of treatment that might be needed.

Amanda Mascarelli


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