An attractive, healthy smile is an asset that can last a lifetime. Not only will orthodontic treatment influence how you feel about yourself, it will also contribute to how healthy and stable your teeth are in the long run. Selecting the right orthodontist for you and your family is too important to simply accept the lowest bid. All smiles are not created equally and just because a dentist has a license is no guarantee that you will be happy with the results. Here are some points you may want to consider as you choose your orthodontist:
- First, consider the organization of the office and staff. Although you may not understand malocclusions or treatment mechanics, you can tell a well-run office when you see one. Is everything clean and in its place? Is the technology and equipment up-to-date? Is the staff friendly, well-trained, and helpful? If so, it is safe to assume that an equal amount of care will go into the treatment they will provide. The quality of care you will receive will mirror the level of organization and technology of the office.
- Second, what is the doctor’s attitude towards his job? Will the doctor be passionate about your child’s care and can he or she communicate a vision of your treatment plan so that it makes sense? A good orthodontist will examine your child at every appointment to make sure that treatment stays on schedule. Not all orthodontists are “hands-on” and it shows.
- Third, is the orthodontist really a good doctor? How did you find him, a recommendation or an advertisement? Have you actually seen his work? Do you have friends who can vouch for him? There is a misconception that as long as a doctor has a degree, he’ll be able to give you the same results as anyone else. If that was the case, finding the lowest fee would make sense. Unfortunately, not all treatment is the same. A good orthodontist will be very particular about their final results while others are content just going through the motions. A good orthodontist will have an eye for beauty and understands the factors that make up an esthetic smile as well as a functionally sound bite. For something this important, you should ask to see actual examples of their work.
- Fourth, is your orthodontist board certified? Board certification is a voluntary examination process of The American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) that allows the orthodontist to present treated cases which will be evaluated by expert examiners of the Board during a Clinical Examination. Involvement in the certification process is a demonstration of the orthodontist's pursuit of continued proficiency and excellence in clinical orthodontics. In fact, Dr. Wheeler is one of only two board certified orthodontists situated between South Sacrament and Modesto. Dr. Wheeler also is an Assistant Clinical Professor at his alma mater, University of California, San Francisco, where he helps teach clinically and didactically the next generation of orthodontists.
- Finally, how do you feel when you are in the office? Is it a good fit for you and your family? A good office should be a happy, fun place. Unlike your family physician that you only see when you are sick, you will be visiting your orthodontist and his staff for at least a couple of years, sometimes longer if the treatment is done in two parts or phases. You should feel very comfortable and safe. The doctor and staff should make you feel at home.
All orthodontic treatment is NOT the same. The facilities and technology are a reflection of the orthodontist who will create the smile that you or your child will have the rest of your life. You really need to vet the doctor to whom you will entrust this important care. As with most things in life, you usually get what you pay for. When it comes to your smile, you can’t afford to make a mistake.
--- Doc W