Choosing the best orthodontist for you or your child’s braces or aligner treatment is an important decision. If you are looking for an orthodontist in Norwalk, Westport, or throughout Fairfield County, there are a few central factors you certainly should consider.
Specialist in Orthodontics
First of all, to be a specialist in orthodontics, a dentist needs to complete two to three years of specialty training in an accredited program.
In addition to completing an orthodontic specialty program, about 30% of orthodontists nationwide and 10% of orthodontists in Connecticut are board certified. To become “board certified,” an orthodontist must successfully complete didactic and clinical exams administered by the American Board of Orthodontics (ABO).
Reputation of the Orthodontist
Ask your general dentist. Whom do they recommend? A dentist wants his or her patients to be happy and pleased with the recommendation. So a dentist will only recommend an orthodontist who guarantees their patients a positive experience. Also, general dentists see the results of every orthodontist firsthand. They know which orthodontic practices provide superior results.
If you live in Norwalk or Westport, ask friends, family, and colleagues where they went for their braces or Invisalign®. Were they happy with the results, office, doctors, appointment availability, and financial arrangements? Do they love their new smile? Did the doctor explain each step and the reasoning behind the plan of treatment?
You can also look at local magazines, which often rank dentists and specialists. For instance, Connecticut Magazine and Westport Weston & Wilton Magazine give out “Best of” awards each year.
Technology of the practice
Radiographs should be digital, because it allows for reduced radiation exposure and increased resolution. 3D radiographs should be used sparingly to reduce expsoure.
The orthodontist should use the latest innovations in braces for the most efficient results, as well as invisible clear braces for the most aesthetic treatment.
Invisalign or a similar clear aligner system should also be a highly utilized option at the practice.
Convenience and Availability of Appointments
Does the office offer after-school appointment times? What about Saturdays if you are too busy during the week? Does it have multiple locations to offer you more options?
How are emergencies handled? You should be able to speak with the orthodontist (rather than an assistant or answering service) if a situation comes up after hours.
Does the office provide a phone number to the on-call doctor? More important, the orthodontist should see you or your child to address discomfort that cannot wait until the office’s regular hours.
Environment of the Office
Orthodontic treatment, braces, or Invisalign, involves a series of appointments, so you should feel very comfortable in the practice. The team at the front desk should be friendly, courteous, and understanding of your schedule. Typically, you can get a feel for the office from just the initial phone call.
For some young children, the idea of braces may bring anxiety. The clinical assistants and orthodontist should recognize any anxiety, explain the steps of the procedure, alleviate the anxiety, and reassure the patient that there will not be any surprises.
Your initial exam should be with the orthodontist! At this exam, the doctor should spend a considerable amount of time with you to explain any issues, remedies for those issues, and pros and cons of various treatment methods.
All findings seen during the clinical exam and any necessary radiographs, as well as the plan of treatment, should be presented by the orthodontist, typically at a separate consultation appointment.
The moral of the story: If you are trying to choose an orthodontist in Norwalk or Westport, Connecticut, you should consider all the above factors to arrive at the best decision. The goal of orthodontic treatment is to have a beautiful smile, and the experience of achieving that beautiful smile should be positive and enjoyable.