Did you know that in 2020, the US was home to 201,117 dentists? However, only about one in five of those dentists practiced a specialization.
Orthodontic service is a perfect example of a dental specialization.
Today, about one in four US patients who receive orthodontic work are adults. That means, no matter how old you are, it’s possible to correct problems with your teeth or jaw alignment.
That’s if you choose an actual orthodontist and not just any dentist.
To that end, we created this guide on making an educated choice when it comes to orthodontists. Read on to learn the key questions to ask when deciding where to get orthodontic treatment.
What Credentials Allow a Dentist to Practice Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is one of the 12 specializations recognized by the American Dental Association. Specializations, in turn, require further education outside of a four-year dental school. For orthodontics, the additional mandatory program and residency take two to three years.
It’s through such programs that orthodontists train on the subject of malocclusion. They learn how to diagnose, prevent, intercept, and correct teeth, jaw, and bite problems.
As such, all orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists specialize in orthodontics. Moreover, US orthodontists are often members of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).
So, one of the first questions to ask when choosing an orthodontist is if they are an AAO member. If they are, that means they have all the requirements to practice orthodontics. You can double-check this via the AAO website, which keeps a detailed directory of its members.
Is the Orthodontist Board-Certified?
The American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) is an orthodontic specialty certifying board. It’s the only one recognized by the ADA for orthodontic specialization.
Board certification is voluntary for orthodontists, though. This may help explain why only one in three orthodontists had ABO certification in 2017.
Why should you care about choosing a board-certified orthodontist then? For starters, board-certified orthodontists undertake even more clinical examinations. For that, they have to go through even more education and training.
All that helps them prove their commitment to providing the best level of care. For patients, this means an extra level of assurance that they’re in competent hands.
What Treatments Does the Orthodontist Provide?
In 2019 alone, the dental braces market in the US had an estimated value of $1.98 billion. That makes braces the most common type of orthodontic treatment in the US. What’s more, experts project this to more than double to reach $4.21 billion by 2027.
However, many types of braces exist, such as traditional, clear, and removable devices.
All these devices share the common goal of correcting teeth and jaw misalignment. However, some of their key differences lie in the types of materials they use.
For example, traditional braces, which are unremovable, use metal wires and brackets. The brackets themselves attach to tooth surfaces using dental adhesives. An archwire then loops all the brackets together to place constant pressure on the teeth.
Clear braces are also non-removable and work in the same way as traditional braces. However, they use less conspicuous components, such as clear or tooth-colored ceramic brackets. Some patients prefer them as they may be more aesthetic than metal braces.
As for removable aligners, these are see-through trays that you can easily slip in and out of the mouth. The trays consist of plastic materials that give them their almost invisible feature.
Not all orthodontists specialize in all forms of braces, though. For instance, an orthodontic office may only offer traditional and clear braces. As such, be sure to take the time to find an orthodontist specializing in various treatments.
Does the Orthodontist Accept Insurance?
From 2014 to 2017, about 1 in 2 US adults aged 18 to 64 had private health insurance with dental benefits. If you’re one of these folks, check your policy as it may provide some orthodontic benefits. For instance, some policies may cover a portion of the total costs of dental braces.
If your dental insurance does, the next thing to do is to look at its affiliated orthodontists. This way, you can confirm if the specialist you want to treat you is within your insurer’s network.
Does the Orthodontic Service Provider Offer Payment Plans?
Cost is one of the biggest factors to consider when you decide to get orthodontic treatment. This depends on many variables, such as the kind of braces you choose and the severity of your teeth or bite woes. However, the typical range is within $3,000 to $10,000.
That’s a hefty amount, which is why some orthodontists offer installment plans.
For example, some may offer to break down the cost in affordable monthly payments. So, if your treatment will cost $5,000 and it’ll take 2 years, the orthodontist may let you pay it for a period of 24 months. In this case, you may only have to pay about a little over $200 a month, so long as there’s no interest fee.
Many orthodontists also accept credit card payments. Some credit card issuers, in turn, may be willing to give you a deal on your health needs. For example, they may offer you a 12-month, zero-interest plan for your treatment.
As such, be sure to contact your credit card company to ask if they have such programs. If they do, you can opt to use that card to make your orthodontic treatment payments.
Get That Dream Smile With Proper Orthodontic Treatment
Always keep in mind that orthodontic service involves complex dental work. That’s why it’s necessary for a specialist, in this case, an orthodontist, to carry out the treatment.
As such, it would be in your best interest to seek an orthodontist rather than a regular dentist. However, you can still rely on your dentist to refer you to a board-certified orthodontist.
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Danny White is a freelance writer who offers to ghostwrite, copywriting, and blogging services. He works closely with B2C and B2B businesses providing digital marketing content that gains social media attention and increases their search engine visibility.