In the day and age where appearance plays such an important part of our lives, orthodontic treatment has become more popular not just for correcting misaligned teeth or jaws, but for creating that perfect smile that everyone dreams of having. Before committing to orthodontic treatment for your child or yourself be sure to ask the following questions:
- Did the orthodontist complete their orthodontics residency from a recognized dental school? Aside from completing dental school, an orthodontist must complete a 2-3 year post graduate residency in orthodontics. Most orthodontists are members of the American Association of Orthodontists. The American Association of Orthodontists is the largest national organization of Orthodontic Specialists who have met the extra educational requirements and good standing to be a member. Look for their logo which indicates an Orthodontic Specialist.
- What is the cost of orthodontic treatment and how can I pay? Perhaps the number one factor determining cost is the length of time and complexity that is needed to complete the case. During your initial exam and consultation, your orthodontist will be able to go over the complete treatment plan including timeline and total cost. Good news is that many orthodontic practices offer convenient options that can make it easy to pay for the smile you have always wanted. These options include:
- Dental Insurance. See if your dental insurance plan covers the cost of braces. Most orthodontic offices will work with you to determine your dental coverage.
- Flexible Spending Account (FSA). If you have a Flexible Spending Account and/or Health Care Savings (HSA) account, use it to help you pay for your braces.
- Affordable Payment Plans. Your orthodontist can work with you to set up monthly payment plans, so you do not have to pay for the entire treatment in full.
- How long will treatment take? Will teeth need to be extracted?
Most treatment time with braces is 20 to 24 months and it depends on the arrangement of the misaligned bite. In very special situations, permanent adult teeth sometimes are extracted to create enough room for a proper alignment of the teeth.
- What other alternatives are there to standard braces? There are alternatives to standard stainless-steel braces like ceramic braces, gold braces, and clear plastic Ceramic braces are made of glass particles and are less visible than the metal ones. Clear aligners are form-fitting plastic slip covers that move the teeth based on minor changes in the shape of the plastic. Made from 3D printed models of a prescription result designed by your orthodontist, clear aligners, in the right situation, can be very effective. Ask your orthodontist which method is right for you!
- How often will I need to visit the orthodontist? This varies from 2-10 weeks during active treatment. It all depends on what type and amount of change the orthodontist is attempting with your smile. Modern technology, like CAD-CAM processes where technology assists the orthodontist, has made it possible to have fewer visits, a more comfortable experience, and less time in treatment.
- Where do I start my search? If you live in Texas, a great place to find your orthodontist is the Texas Association of Orthodontists (TAO). The TAO is a professional organization of orthodontic specialists committed to maintaining the highest standards of orthodontic care for patients throughout Texas. You can access the TAO’s directory web page at https://www.texasortho.org/listings/.