Mistakes People Make When Choosing An Orthodontist and How To Avoid Them

An orthodontist provides a very important service to people of all ages. Not only is correcting crooked teeth important for giving you a smile you can be proud of, it can also help overcome some challenges such as chewing food and talking.

Choosing the right specialist is critical in ensuring that the procedures are done right. Poorly done procedures can be cheap in the short term, but very costly in the long run. If braces are not fitted properly by a qualified professional, one stands the chance of having all their teeth removed. It may take years to correct the teeth. When looking for an orthodontist, here is what to avoid,

Not understanding the difference

There is a difference between an orthodontist and a dentist who performs orthodontists procedures. Most people do not know the difference. They end up taking advice from an dentist instead of an orthodontist.

The difference between an orthodontist and a dentist, is that an orthodontist has gone through a lot of training. This training allows him to competently perform the procedures such as correcting crooked teeth and fitting braces.

An orthodontist trains first as a dentist. He then takes a specialized course which is usually 4 years after dental training. He has to be top 10% of his class before he can be eligible for the specialized training program. Orthodontists are also required to spend 4,000 to 6,000 hours training before they can be certified. This level of expertise is necessary in order to avoid dental mistakes when fitting braces or carrying out other procedures. Therefore relying on someone who hasn’t specialized is one of the common mistakes people make.

Not looking up for credentials

After undergoing such an intensive training program an orthodontist should have credentials. When he is certified he is recognized by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). How can you tell if he is truly certified? You can check the AAO website on

Some take a step further and become board certified. This means he has voluntarily taken exams prepared by the AAO to check his judgment, expertise and knowledge. If you find a specialist who claims to be board certified, you can verify by checking on

Referrals from dentists

When a primary care dentist realizes you have crooked teeth or a similar problem that needs attention, they could refer you to an orthodontist. There are many occasions when they will refer you to a qualified practitioner and which makes finding an orthodontist that much easier for you. However, this is not always the case.

There are dentists who will make referrals for very subjective reasons that have nothing to do with their medical practice. For example they will refer someone because they are drinking buddies, or they went to college together. This type of referral is obviously not beneficial because the dentist does not take time to find the most qualified medical practitioner he can refer his patients to. You therefore need to take every referral with a pinch of salt. Look up their qualifications and any other credentials where possible.

Waiting until it is too late

Most parents with young children have such a hectic lifestyle that they don’t remember to pay attention to their children’s dental health. These parents often fail to detect the problem when it arises. Sometimes they procrastinate getting that appointment with the dentist until it is too late.

Do not dismiss orthodontist’s treatment as an aesthetic procedure or a luxury. It is important to ensure that treatment is received at the right time. Ensure you and your family visit the dentist regularly. You will save a lot if you visit the right orthodontist on time.

Written by Dr. Darren Wittenberger, is the best orthodontists in Columbia MO, and owner of his own practice, Advance Orthodontics. Dr. Wittenberger enjoys sharing his expertise to ensure people can maintain the healthiest, straightest teeth possible!

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